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Companies Developing Treatment For Coronavirus (2019-ncov) Outbreak

This is not the first time that coronavirus has been the talking point around the globe. Previously too coronavirus was an outbreak in humans and the two most widely known were Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreaks.


In December 2019, the novel coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, China and on 31st December 2019, Chinese Health Authorities alerted WHO (World Health Organization) about the virus. WHO gave an interim name to the novel coronavirus as “2019-nCoV” and final name is expected to be made official by International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses

Unlike in the cases of previous outbreaks, the companies, researchers, academic institutes, government research firms and regulating bodies (WHO, CDC, etc) have been quick with the response and have already initiated the research to develop diagnostic test, vaccines and treatment to eradicate the new strain of coronavirus. This epidemic rage is estimated to have at least 2000 cases daily.

As of February 7, 2020, 30,000 cases have been confirmed in China and other countries, of which the death toll soars past 645.

Recent developments in vaccine programs

    • The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) awarded grant to Inovio Pharmaceuticals to develop a vaccine using DNA medicine platform.
      • Inovio Pharmaceuticals and Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co collaborated to advance INO-4800 vaccine. The trial will be run parallel in the U.S. and China
      • Inovio’s other collaborators in this coronavirus vaccine development include the Wistar Institute and VGXI, a fully owned subsidiary of GeneOne Life Science
      • Under an agreement executed with Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Plasmid DNA contract manufacturer VGXI Inc to start production of a DNA vaccine against Coronavirus
    • The Vaccine Research Center (VRC) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of NIH, collaborated with Moderna Therapeutics to design the vaccine. CEPI awarded grant to Moderna Therapeutics to accelerate the development of mRNA vaccine
    • CEPI awarded grant to University of Queensland, Australia to use the rapid response technology to develop a new vaccine in next 6 months
    • CureVac and CEPI collaborated for mRNA vaccine development platform
    • GSK and CEPI have partnered to develop vaccine using GSK’s pandemic vaccine adjuvant platform technology
    • J&J and Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies are developing a preventive coronavirus vaccine using Janssen’s AdVac® and PER.C6® technology, which was used in Ebola vaccine development
    • GeoVax Labs, Inc., a biotechnology company developing human  immunotherapies and vaccines against infectious diseases and cancer, together with BravoVax, a vaccine developer in Wuhan,China, announced the signing of a Letter of Intent to jointly develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus
    • CytoDyn a biotechnology company is set to test lerolimab, a C-C chemokine receptor type 5(CCR5) antagonist to potentially treat the infection
    • Clover Biopharmaceuticals is leveraging its Trimer-Tag technology and mammalian cell culture-based expression system to create the recombinant subunit of the vaccine.
    • AbCellera, a Canada based vaccine research company has allied with the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and other research teams to test antibody candidates for prophylactic as well as therapeutic efficacy.

Treatment programs:

  • Vir Biotechnology is exploring whether its previously identified mAb can neutralize 2019-nCoV. They also plan to take another approach of applying apply whole genome CRISPR-based screening capabilities (Vir’s innate immunity platform) 9
  • Gilead Sciences drug remdesivir failed in Ebola however showed efficacy in preclinical study for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus. In compassionate use program, Gilead administered drug remdesivir in first U.S. patient of 2019-nCoV, where it showed some significant improvement in the health. Based on these results, Gilead collaborated with China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Wuhan, China (where 2019-nCoV outbreak initiated) to randomize patients with mild-to-moderate pneumonia related to 2019-nCoV to receive remdesivir 10
  • Abbvie’s HIV drug Kaletra/Aluvia (two antiretroviral components, lopinavir and ritonavir) is recommended by China’s National Health Commission to treat pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV 12
  • Sirnaomics is developing novel RNAi-based therapy for treating patients suffering from Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) caused by the 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Does not matter who, but the world needs one of the above companies to come up with a therapy to treat the coronavirus 2019-nCoV infection at the earliest.

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  18. Image Courtesy: Pixaby
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