GSK allies with Innovax for COVID-19 vaccine R&D project

GlaxoSmithKline GSK House in Brentford, UK
One of GSK's partners has early evidence an adjuvant works with COVID-19 vaccines. (GlaxoSmithKline)

GlaxoSmithKline has teamed up with Xiamen Innovax Biotech to evaluate a vaccine against the novel coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. The agreement gives Innovax access to a GSK adjuvant to enhance the immune response triggered by its recombinant protein-based vaccine.

GSK teamed up with Innovax last year to develop a human papillomavirus vaccine, tapping into the work of the Chinese biotech to drive its search for a successor to Cervarix. The latest deal moves the partnership into COVID-19 and, in doing so, continues GSK’s effort to support the response to the pandemic SARS-CoV-2 virus through the provision of its AS03 adjuvant.

While GSK developed its own vaccine against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, the Big Pharma has opted to play a supporting role in the industry’s response to COVID-19, primarily by providing its AS03 adjuvant to Clover Biopharmaceuticals and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

Virtual Roundtable

ASCO Explained: Expert predictions and takeaways from the world's biggest cancer meeting

Join FiercePharma for our ASCO pre- and post-show webinar series. We'll bring together a panel of experts to preview what to watch for at ASCO. Cancer experts will highlight closely watched data sets to be unveiled at the virtual meeting--and discuss how they could change prescribing patterns. Following the meeting, we’ll do a post-show wrap up to break down the biggest data that came out over the weekend, as well as the implications they could have for prescribers, patients and drugmakers.

Innovax will apply the adjuvant to a vaccine it is developing with Xiamen University. The vaccine, like others in development, is based on the coronavirus’ spike protein. Innovax is screening a series of truncated spike proteins to gather immunogenicity data to inform the selection of a lead candidate. Adding AS03 to the mix may reduce the level of protein needed to protect patients.

GSK has early evidence to suggest AS03 can deliver those benefits to COVID-19 vaccines, noting that one of its collaborators has reported encouraging preclinical data. The Big Pharma expects partners to publish more data over the next three months, setting them up to plot out clinical strategies. GSK is also “evaluating further collaboration opportunities with several other companies and institutions.”

The vaccine work is advancing in parallel to efforts to develop COVID-19 medicines. In a statement about its activities related to the pandemic, GSK said it is evaluating whether drugs in its portfolio of experimental and approved medicines can play a role in the response to COVID-19, either as a direct antiviral or in the management of secondary complications. 

As previously disclosed, GSK is part of a group of companies that have made libraries of compounds available for screening by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative involving the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The accelerator is screening compounds shared by Big Pharma companies for efficacy against SARS-CoV-2. 

Suggested Articles

The FDA named more than two dozen coronavirus antibody tests that should be taken off the market weeks after the agency clamped down on tests.

Inovio CEO J. Joseph Kim is undeterred by short sellers and other detractors who doubt his company can shuttle a COVID-19 DNA vaccine to market.

The machine-learning programs scroll through data to detect hard-to-spot patterns. Yet few have been tested against standard procedures.