15 pharma companies leading the way in vaccine discovery
The novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world and vaccine developers are responding with unprecedented speed. The genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus was released in January and the first human trials of Moderna’s vaccine candidate have already begun. The typical timeline for vaccine development can take five to seven years before approval. However, vaccine developers have been able to take advantage of previous research on coronaviruses such as SARS and MERS and are hopeful that a new vaccine could be available within 18 months.
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We have identified 15 of the pharmaceutical companies leading the race to find the coronavirus vaccine.
In March, Pfizer Inc. announced that a joint venture with BioNtech Se to develop and distribute BioNTech’s mRNA based COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT-162. Pfizer and BioNTech have previously partnered to develop preventative vaccines for influenza in 2018 and the new venture will build on this relationship to accelerate the development of BNT-162. It is expected that it will enter clinical testing by the end of April 2020.
GlaxoSmithKline has brought many vaccines to the market including vaccines for HPV and the seasonal flu. In February, they announced they will give access to it’s vaccine adjuvant platform to the University of Queensland. They have also given access to Clover Biopharmaceuticals Inc who are using it in combination with their vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer.
Inc Inovio have completed preclinical testing of their vaccine candidate INO-4800 and the company plans to begin 30 participant clinical trials in the U.S, China and South Korea in April. Inovio has said it expects results from the trial to be available by the autumn and it plans to have 1 million doses of the vaccine ready for further clinical trials or emergency use by the end of the year.
Johnson & Johnson is working with BARDA to develop a vaccine candidate. In March, the company said it had started preclinical testing on multiple candidates in Boston, and it aims to have a vaccine candidate by the end of the month.
In February, Novavax reported that it has several vaccine candidates in preclinical animal studies. The company plans to begin Phase I clinical studies by June. In March the company announced a collaboration between itself and Emergent Biosolutions to manufacture an experimental vaccine.
In February, Sanofi started working with BARDA to use its recombinant DNA platform to test a preclinical vaccine candidate for COVID-19. The French company has previously worked with the organization on flu vaccines.
Heat Biologics has announced that it is partnering with the University of Miami to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. Its vaccine candidate, gp96, has been added to the World Health Organisations draft landscape of 41 candidate vaccines. The company has also joined the Alliance for Biosecurity, which may help it secure funding to support the rapid development and distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine
Although BioNTech’s primary focus is cancer, the company also uses its deep experience in mRNA based vaccines to develop a pipeline for a range of infectious diseases. BioNTech is currently working with Pfizer to develop its vaccine candidate BNT-162 and with Fosun Pharma to conduct clinical trials in China.
In March the company announced a partnership with Emergent BioSolutions to help develop and manufacture its oral vaccine candidate, which will take the form of a room temperature stable tablet. The company believes an oral vaccine will offer a significant logistical advantage in the provision of mass vaccination campaigns.
Vir is collaborating with WuXi Biologics and Biogeb to develop and test its lead clinical vaccine candidate. The candidate was developed using an antibody based approach which could allow the vaccine to remain effective even if the virus mutates. The company plans to move to phase 1 clinical testing by the Summer.
In January, Moderna Therapeutics developed the first batches of its Covid19 vaccine, just 42 days after the genetic sequence of the COVID-19 virus was released by Chinese researchers. Phase 1 trials began in March. The study will follow 45 healthy participants aged 18-55 and is expected to conclude in June 2021.
Emergent BioSolutions is focused on developing treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. In March, the company announced that it has begun development of two candidate hyperimmune products against the disease. These therapeutics will aim to leverage the immune response in order to fight off Covid19 and are derived from antibodies found in the blood of people who’ve tested positive for the virus. The company has also announced partnerships with two companies, Novavax & Vaxart, to provide development and manufacturing services for potential vaccines against COVID-19.
The company is working with the University of Queensland, Australia to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. In March the company also announced that it would make it vaccine adjuvant technology available to other companies working on a vaccine through a partnership with CEPI.
Geovax is using its expertise in human immunotherapies to develop a candidate vaccine for COVID-19. In March, the company announced that they had identified three possible vaccine candidates and are working on narrowing it down to the most effective option based on the results of animal studies. Once the final candidate is selected, Geovax intends to proceed directly to manufacturing and human testing.
Curevac has several years experience in developing vaccines and created a novel technology that allows them to remain stable without refrigeration. They have already begun work on their COVID-19 vaccine candidate and plan to enter clinical trials with its vaccine candidate in June 2020. Curevac has received funding from CEPI and the EU to allow the company to quickly scale up its production.
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