CEPI and GSK announce collaboration to strengthen the global effort to develop a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV virus

03 Feb 2020

By GSK


3D print of a coronavirus spike. Credit: NIAID

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Oslo, Norway; London, UK

CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and GSK today announced a new collaboration aimed at helping the global effort to develop a vaccine for the 2019-nCoV virus. In this new move GSK will make its established pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform technology available to enhance the development of an effective vaccine against 2019-nCoV.

GSK is a leader in the development of innovative vaccines using different 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 use of an adjuvant is of particular importance in a pandemic situation since it can reduce the amount of antigen required per dose, allowing more vaccine doses to be produced and made available to more people.

Gaining access to GSK’s world-leading adjuvant technology is a huge step forward in developing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV. Coupling GSK’s adjuvant systems with the pioneering platform technology we are funding has the potential to make more vaccine available more rapidly – by decreasing the dose of vaccine antigen required to protect each individual. This “antigen-sparing” effect makes a given supply of vaccine go farther, increasing the number of people who can benefit.

Dr. Richard Hatchett

Chief Executive Officer, CEPI

As a leader in science and innovation, we believe we can help to contribute to the fight against 2019-nCOV with one of our advanced vaccine adjuvant systems. Our adjuvant technology has previously been used successfully in the pandemic flu setting. It enables using only small quantities of the vaccine antigen which allows the production of more doses of the vaccine – a crucial advantage in a pandemic.

Thomas Breuer

Thomas Breuer

CEPI will coordinate engagements between GSK and entities funded by CEPI who are interested in testing their vaccine platform with GSK’s adjuvant technology to develop effective vaccines against 2019-nCoV. The first agreement to formalize this arrangement has been signed between GSK and the University of Queensland, Australia, which entered a partnering agreement with CEPI in January 2019 to develop a “molecular clamp” vaccine platform, intended to enable targeted and rapid vaccine production against multiple viral pathogens. CEPI has extended this funding to work on a 2019-nCoV virus vaccine candidate, and access to the GSK adjuvant technology will now support this early stage research.

At GSK we believe in the value CEPI can bring to responding to outbreaks like 2019-nCOV. We are proud to contribute to cutting edge research from scientists at the University of Queensland, and we are open to working with other partners, who have a promising vaccine platform that could be used together with our adjuvant.

Roger Connor

Roger Connor

The research team at The University of Queensland are progressing a 2019-nCoV vaccine program and the availability of the GSK adjuvant will enable us to carry out important pre-clinical experiments designed to assess vaccine effectiveness.

Prof Peter Høj

Prof Peter Høj

This announcement complements 4 prior CEPI programmes of work relating to 2019-nCoV vaccine development already announced by CEPI, in partnership with: CureVac; Inovio; The University of Queensland; and Moderna, Inc. and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. These partnerships seek to improve the scientific understanding of the novel coronavirus, and to develop vaccines against it. These programmes will leverage rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI with the aim of advancing 2019-nCoV vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible. In addition, CEPI launched a new call for proposals to rapidly develop and manufacture already proven vaccine technology that can be used against the new coronavirus. The call is rolling and open until February.

Both CEPI and GSK are committed to principles of equitable access and will work together in this collaboration to ensure that this principle governs the development, use and access of any 2019-nCoV vaccine developed through the collaboration.

About the novel coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can lead to respiratory illness, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people and can evolve into strains not previously identified in humans. On January 7, 2020, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was identified as the cause of pneumonia cases in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China, and additional cases have since then been found in a number of countries, which so far could all be traced back to Wuhan City, China.

About CEPI
CEPI is an innovative partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organisations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI has reached over US$750 million of its $1 billion funding target. CEPI’s priority diseases include Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, Nipah virus, Rift Valley Fever and Chikungunya virus. CEPI also invests in platform technologies that can be used for rapid vaccine and immunoprophylactic development against unknown pathogens (eg 2019-nCoV). To date, CEPI has committed to investing over $456 million in vaccine and platform development. Learn more at www.cepi.net. Follow us at @CEPIvaccines

About GSK
GSK is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer. GSK is the leading manufacturer of vaccines globally. For further information please visit www.gsk.com/about-us

About University of Queensland
The University of Queensland is a global top 50 university, ranked first in Australia and ninth in the world for biotechnology.

Image Caption and Credit

3D print of a coronavirus spike. The spike is a protein on the coronavirus surface that helps the virus enter and infect cells. Credit: NIAID