Coronavirus | Biological E. inks pacts with Johnson & Johnson, Baylor College of Medicine on vaccine

The vaccine candidate is currently in Phase 1/2a clinical trials, the Hyderabad-based Biological E. said on Thursday

Updated - August 13, 2020 10:39 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2020 06:30 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Samples from volunteers are seen during the development of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo used for representation purpose only.

Samples from volunteers are seen during the development of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo used for representation purpose only.

Pharmaceuticals and biological company Biological E. (BE) has entered into separate agreements with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV and Baylor College of Medicine for COVID-19 vaccine.

Also read: COVID vaccine likely by mid-’21: WHO scientist Soumya Swaminathan

With Janssen Pharmaceutica, one of the Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, the agreement is for creation / enhancement of manufacturing capacities for drug substance and drug product for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Ad26.COV2.S.

The vaccine candidate is currently in Phase 1/2a clinical trials, the Hyderabad-based Biological E. said on Thursday. “Given the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic, our ability to mount an effective response will be predicated on the ability to supply the vaccine globally and in significant quantities. This is best achieved through collaboration,” BE Managing Director Mahima Datla said.

Director of BioE Holdings Inc. Narender Dev Mantena, who heads BE’s novel vaccine initiative, said “we look forward to deploying our manufacturing infrastructure to support Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to global access for its COVID-19 vaccine.”

Also read: Coronav irus | India will have to deliver vaccine on a scale never seen before: Oxford scientist Andrew Pollard

Licensing pact

Another release said the Baylor College of Medicine and BE have signed a licensing agreement for development of a safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccine. BE has licensed the recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed at Baylor.

The company will leverage its experience for further development and commercialisation of the vaccine candidate, which currently is produced using a proven yeast-based expression technology.

According to the release, BE engaged in license negotiations with the BCM Ventures team, a part of Baylor College of Medicine, after initial discussions on Baylor’s technology. The focus would be on transfer of the technology for BE to initiate scale-up of the manufacturing process and undertake further development of the vaccine candidate.

Also read: Coronavirus | No specific drug, vaccine for COVID-19 yet, says ICMR

“We look forward to facilitating the technology transfer for the COVID-19 vaccine to India and for the world,” said Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor and co-director of Texas Children’s Centre for Vaccine Development.

While Ms. Datla said the partnership with Baylor would help accelerate development of an affordable vaccine, especially for India and other low — and middle-income nations, Mr.Mantena said if the vaccine development is successful, the company expects to make several hundred million doses of the vaccine available annually.

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