Sanofi and GSK have signed a letter of intent to enter into a collaboration to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19, using innovative technology from both companies, to help address the ongoing pandemic.
Sanofi will contribute its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, which is based on recombinant DNA technology. This technology has produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, and the DNA sequence encoding this antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, the basis of Sanofi’s licensed recombinant influenza product in the US.
GSK will contribute its proven pandemic adjuvant technology to the collaboration. 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 and therefore contributing to protect more people.
The combination of a protein-based antigen together with an adjuvant, is 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 plan to initiate phase I clinical trials in the second half of 2020 and, if successful and subject to regulatory considerations, aim to complete the development required for availability by the second half of 2021.
Considering the extraordinary humanitarian and financial challenge of the pandemic, both companies believe that global access to COVID-19 vaccines is a priority and are committed to making any vaccine that is developed through the collaboration affordable to the public and through mechanisms that offer fair access for people in all countries.
This new collaboration marks a significant milestone in Sanofi’s and GSK’s ongoing contributions to help fight COVID-19. The companies have entered into a Material Transfer Agreement to enable them to start working together immediately.
The GSK Tuscan plant, near Siena, is the world centre of vaccine production of the British pharma giant. Chief scientist and head of external R&D at GsK is Rino Rappuoli, one of the leading international vaccine experts and Tuscany Business Advisor. All the best in your work!