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Pharmaceutical Giants Join Forces in Fight Against COVID-19

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) signed a letter of intent in April 2020 to combine innovative technologies to develop and adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine.

In this collaboration, Sanofi will bring to the table its S-protein COVID-19 antigen based on recombinant DNA technology. Using this technology, it has produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus. The DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, this represents the fundamentals of Sanofi’s licensed recombinant influenza product in the United States.

“As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone. That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.” Said Paul Hudson, Chief Executive Officer, Sanofi.

GSK on the other hand will contribute its proven pandemic adjuvant technology. The use of an adjuvant can be of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced.

“This collaboration brings together two of the world’s largest vaccines companies. By combining our scientific expertise, technologies and capabilities, we believe that we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19.” Said Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer, GSK.

The combined efforts are well-established and used in a number of vaccines available today. An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response and has been shown to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. It can also improve the likelihood of delivering an effective vaccine that can be manufactured at scale.

The companies have set up a Joint Task Force, co-chaired by David Loew, Global Head of Vaccines, Sanofi and Roger Connor, President Vaccines, GSK. The taskforce will seek to mobilize resources from both companies to look for every opportunity to accelerate the development of the candidate vaccine.

Sanofi previously announced the development of recombinant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate is being supported through funding and a collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Discussions for funding support with other governments and global institutions to prioritise global access to the vaccine.

These efforts mark a significant milestone for both companies and its ongoing contributions to help fight COVID-19. Both have entered into a Material Transfer Agreement to enable them to start working together immediately. [APBN]