GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has collaborated with Vir Biotechnology for the research and development of solutions for coronaviruses.
Under the binding agreement, the companies will work together to provide solutions for coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.
GSK will make an equity investment of around $250m in Vir, in addition to gaining access to Vir’s technology.
GSK R&D president and chief scientific officer Dr Hal Barron said: “Vir’s unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens, and it is highly complementary with our R&D approach to focus on the science of immunology.”
The partnership will apply Vir’s monoclonal antibody platform technology to advance existing and detect new anti-viral antibodies that may serve as therapeutic or preventative solutions to contain the current COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.
The firms will leverage GSK’s expertise in functional genomics, as well as aggregate their capabilities in CRISPR screening and artificial intelligence to detect anti-coronavirus compounds that target cellular host genes.
GSK and Vir will use their combined expertise to study SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus vaccines.
Initially, the firms will advance the development of specific antibody candidates, including VIR-7831 and VIR-78, detected by the Vir platform.
Both candidates are said to show a high affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and hold the capacity to neutralise SARS-CoV-2 in live virus-cellular assays.
The firms aim to advance directly into a phase 2 clinical trial within the next three to five months, subject to regulatory review.
The companies will also apply Vir’s CRISPR screening and machine learning approach to detect cellular targets whose inhibition can prevent viral infection.
GSK and Vir will also research SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus vaccines by pairing GSK’s vaccines technologies and expertise with Vir’s ability to identify neutralising epitopes that are present across entire viral families.
Vir Biotechnology CEO Dr George Scangos said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop this coronavirus pandemic. It is likely that the current coronavirus outbreak will not be the last.”
Recently, GSK and Innoviva announced that they are seeking approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for an additional indication of Trelegy Ellipta to treat adult patients with asthma.