Novartis-subsidiary AveXis has entered into an agreement to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
AveXis will supply the gene-therapy vaccine at no cost for COVID-19 trials scheduled to begin in the second half of 2020 and will expand production if the candidate is successful.
The experimental vaccine uses an adeno-associated virus (AAV) as a vector to deliver the genetic code to produce protein fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19, to elicit an immune response.
AAV is a rapidly adaptable technology, so if a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerges, the genetic code inside the AAVCOVID vaccine can be exchanged for an updated genetic code and processed into an updated vaccine in weeks, the researchers said.
The AveXis agreement signals Novartis’ re-entry into the vaccine market. The company sold off its vaccine business to GlaxoSmithKline in 2015.
In another vaccine collaboration, Oxford Biomedica has announced a one-year clinical and commercial supply agreement with AstraZeneca to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222.
Under that agreement, AstraZeneca will have access to Oxford Biomedica’s commercial manufacturing center in Oxford, UK, to manufacture the vaccine being co-developed by the University of Oxford.
The new agreement builds upon a previous deal that AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford entered into last month in which the company is responsible for manufacturing the vaccine candidate. — Suz Redfearn