GSK agrees Covid-19 vac­cine tie-up

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Si­mon Foy

DRUG maker Glax­oSmithK­line has signed a deal to develop and test a vac­cine for Covid-19.

The com­pany is join­ing forces with Cana­dian biotech busi­ness Med­icago in a bid to tackle the dis­ease.

Their tie-up will com­bine Med­icago’s plant-based vac­cine pro­duc­tion sys­tem with GSK’s ad­ju­vant tech­nolo­gies, sub­stances that en­hance the body’s im­mune re­sponse. Med­icago, which is partly owned by cig­a­rette maker Philip Mor­ris In­ter­na­tional, uses a virus-like par­ti­cle grown in a plant sim­i­lar to a to­bacco bush.

This par­ti­cle mim­ics the struc­ture of the virus re­spon­si­ble for Covid-19, al­low­ing the body’s im­mune sys­tem to recog­nise it.

In­stead of de­vel­op­ing its own vac­cine, London-listed Glaxo is shar­ing its ad­ju­vant tech with other com­pa­nies. Hu­man tests are due to start in mid-July. If suc­cess­ful, the com­pa­nies will aim to make the vac­cine avail­able in the first half of 2021.

Med­icago is jointly owned by Mit­subishi Tan­abe Pharma and Philip Mor­ris. How­ever, the to­bacco com­pany has sig­nalled that it is will­ing to sell its 33pc stake if an­other com­pany is better suited to help Med­icago through the next phase.

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