Multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, also known as GSK, is partnering up with Vir Biotechnology, to join their fight against the coronavirus. The $250 million investment made by GSK, will allow the two companies to use their scientific and technical expertise to create vaccines, explore new forms of treatment and investigate preventative methods for future outbreaks.
The partnerships’ first set of action will focus on one of the main topics surrounding the global pandemic, that being treatment for the virus. Immediate attention will be put on two antibodies, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, which will be put against SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the novel coronavirus. “We are pleased with the rapidity of our progress and excited to move two development candidates into human testing as soon as possible,” says Vir CEO George Scangos, Ph.D.
GSK and Vir are hopeful to have the two antibodies move into phase two of clinical trials within the next couple of months, with some talk of phase two beginning this summer.
Now while many anticipate when treatment for COVID-19 will be available, this is just one portion of the partners’ mission with the want to accomplish more on the horizon. This includes procedures to identify antiviral antibodies to be used in future prevention methods and therapeutic use for any outbreaks, coronavirus included, that may occur in the future. Scangos says, “It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop this coronavirus pandemic”.
The partners will use several different tactics including, the combining of “their CRISPR screening and artificial intelligence capabilities” and the use of “GSK’s functional genomics” to help find researches find new anti-coronavirus compounds. In the past Vir has used the approach to find areas in cells that if inhibited could prevent viral infection. This approach has been practiced in other viruses such as influenza and hepatitis B, with coronavirus being added to this list.
The new partnership shows the companies are a force to be reckoned with, with passion and drive on their side. “I am very excited that the talent and passion of our two companies will come together to develop solutions for multiple diseases, including the very promising antibody candidates targeting COVID-19,” said GSK’s Chief Scientific Officer and President, Research and Development”.
This is just the beginning of this powerful partnership, with more to come in the near future.