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GSK links with Vir Biotechnology to find coronavirus solutions

As of this morning – Tuesday April 7 – the current recorded case count for COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the UK has hit 51,608 with 5,373 deaths.
GlaxoSmithKline has bought a $250-million stake in Vir Biotechnology as the companies reveal they will collaborate to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses, including COVID-19.
The partnership will utilise Vir’s proprietary monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and identify new antiviral antibodies that could be either therapeutic or preventative options in the fight against COVID-19.
It was also leverage GSK’s expertise in functional genomics and combine capabilities in CRISPR screening and artificial intelligence to identify anti-coronavirus compounds that target cellular host genes.
The initial focus will be to speed up development of specific antibody candidates identified by the Vir platform, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, that have demonstrated high affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are highly potent in neutralising SARS-CoV-2 in live virus-cellular assays.
Subject to regulatory review, the companies plan to proceed directly into a Phase II clinical trial within the next three to five months.
“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. These insights are informing our scientific approach and we are pleased to join forces on the execution of this strategy with GSK, who have a like-minded R&D strategy, a deep expertise in vaccines and an impressive global reach to bring medicines to people around the world,” said George Scangos, Vir’s chief executive, commenting on the deal.
GSK will make an equity investment in Vir of $250 million to gain access to its technology. The equity investment and collaboration agreement will complete at the same time and are conditional upon customary conditions.
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