GSK said Friday that it has begun to collaborate with Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a Chinese global clinical-stage biotechnology company, to develop a protein-based novel coronavirus vaccine candidate, COVID-19 S-Trimer.
GSK will provide its pandemic adjuvant system for assessing Clover's S-Trimer, which is at a preclinical stage. Clover has China's largest commercial current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) biopharmaceutical manufacturing capability and is expected to expand rapidly, and mass-produce coronavirus vaccine production facilities.
"We are proud to contribute to Clover's cutting-edge study conducted by researchers in China as part of our strategy to provide our adjuvant system to partners with promising vaccine candidates for COVID-19," said Thomas Breuer, chief medical officer of GSK Vaccines.
The use of an adjuvant is important in a pandemic situation because it may reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, which allows more vaccine doses to be produced and contribute to protecting more people, GSK said in a press release.
GSK is a leader in developing innovative vaccines by using various adjuvant systems. An adjuvant is added to some vaccines to enhance the immune response, thereby creating a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone, the company added.
"S-Trimer is being rapidly developed to support global efforts in combating current and any future coronavirus outbreaks by utilizing our proprietary Timer-Tag technology that has been shown to be recognized by antibodies produced by multiple COVID-19 patients," said Joshua Liang, chief strategy officer and board director at Clover.
Steven Gong, vice president of business development & strategy at Clover, also said, “We are proud to work with GSK, and we are encouraged by the progress of our S-Trimer vaccine program. We recognize that collaborations are critical to accelerating the development of a new vaccine in an emergency, and we continue to invite any interested government, academic, or industry parties to contact us for this cause.”
With the acknowledgment of the genomic DNA sequence of the newly identified SARS-CoV-2 virus last month, Clover researchers began to design the viral spike (S)-protein construct and completed its gene synthesis, GSK said.
Utilizing its patented Trimer-Tag technology, Clover has produced an S-Trimer subunit vaccine that resembles the native trimeric viral spike via a rapid mammalian cell-culture based expression system, it added.
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