CEPI partners with Aussie biotech giant, university on COVID-19 vaccine

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-05 12:03:19|Editor: huaxia

SYDNEY, June 5 (Xinhua) -- The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has partnered with Australian biotech giant CSL to develop, manufacture and globally distribute a COVID-19 vaccine.

The landmark international collaboration aims to fast track a vaccine candidate developed by Australia's University of Queensland (UQ), which has been identified as showing significant promise.

Phase one of human trials for UQ's "Molecular Clamp" vaccine are expected to take place in early July, with the potential for a widespread rollout of doses in 2021.

The vaccine theoretically works by locking on to the normally unstable, perfusion proteins on the surface of the virus, allowing the body's immune system to respond more effectively.

Early preclinical results of the UQ COVID-19 vaccine candidate have shown it to produce high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.

Jane Halton, Chair of CEPI explained that partnering with CSL gives the capacity to rapidly produce "a very significant number" of doses should the vaccine prove viable.

"We are absolutely focused on developing vaccines that are globally accessible. Immunising those who need it most, regardless of where they are in the world, is the quickest way to end the pandemic," Halton said.

CSL, which was formerly Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, recently become the largest company listed on Australia's stock market, and is one of the largest providers globally of in-licensed vaccines.

Chief Scientific Officer at CSL, Professor Andrew Cuthbertson explained that the plan takes advantage of the company's large scale manufacturing facilities within Australia -- including two 2,000-litre bioreactors capable of producing multi-millions of doses, which is where the initial phase of large-scale production of the UQ COVID-19 vaccine is planned to take place.

CEPI already funds multiple COVID-19 vaccine programs worldwide involving institutions such as Curevac, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Moderna, Novavax, the University of Hong Kong, the University of Oxford, and a consortium led by Institut Pasteur, and Clover Biopharmaceuticals.

"What I can tell you is to actually get funding from CEPI in the first instance, this is a particularly good project," Halton said of UQ's vaccine program.

"It received ringing endorsement from our scientific advisory committee and that is the basis on which we've invested." Enditem