Expanded Collaboration to Advance New Therapeutics for Respiratory Viruses

Vir Biotechnology and GSK to apply their expertise to develop monoclonal antibody candidates for influenza
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(Precision Vaccinations)

Vir Biotechnology, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) announced an agreement to expand their existing collaboration to include the research and development of new therapies for influenza and other respiratory viruses.

The expanded collaboration disclosed on February 17, 2021, which builds on the agreement signed in 2020 to research and develop therapies for coronaviruses, provides GSK exclusive rights to collaborate with Vir on the development of potential best-in-class monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) for the prevention or treatment of influenza. 

These include VIR-2482, an intramuscularly administered investigational mAb designed as a universal prophylactic for influenza A that has completed a Phase 1 trial and next-generation antibodies for the prevention treatment of influenza during a three-year research period. 

GSK will have the exclusive option to co-develop VIR-2482 after Vir completes and reports Phase 2 trial outcomes and will share development costs on developing all other influenza mAbs.

The protection provided by current flu vaccines varies from season to season, based on the circulating influenza virus strains. 

People over 65 years of age with at least one comorbidity, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or immunocompromised, are at significantly increased risk of flu and flu-related hospitalization and mortality. 

This is also a population where the currently available vaccines have historically had lower efficacy.

As part of the new collaboration agreement, the companies will also engage in two additional research programs. 

The first is expanding their current functional genomics collaboration to develop potential pan-coronavirus therapeutics, including other respiratory virus targets. Under the second program, the companies will collaborate to develop up to three neutralizing monoclonal antibodies identified using Vir’s antibody technology platform to target non-influenza pathogens during a three-year research period.

George Scangos, Ph.D., CEO, Vir Biotechnology, said in a press statement, “GSK has been a valuable strategic partner and scientific collaborator in the fight against COVID-19. As part of our functional genomics collaboration directed at COVID-19, we have turned up multiple targets that have the potential to treat influenza and other respiratory viruses, and it makes sense to extend the scope of our collaboration to include these new targets.” 

“This expanded collaboration supports the rapid advancement of multiple promising investigational compounds in our pipeline, increasing the likelihood that these potentially life-saving treatments will reach patients sooner, and will advance our shared goal of developing single drugs that can address multiple ‘bugs.”

GSK and Vir entered into an initial strategic collaboration in April 2020 to research and develop solutions for coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

The focus of the collaboration to date has been developing specific antibody candidates identified by Vir’s monoclonal antibody platform, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, which have demonstrated the potential to both block viral entry into healthy cells and clear infected cells, and to provide a high barrier to resistance. 

VIR-7831 is currently in two global Phase 3 studies as monotherapy and one Phase 2 study as combination therapy, with initial results from the first of the Phase 3 studies expected in the first quarter of 2021. 

VIR-7832 has been accepted into the NHS-supported AGILE Phase 1b/2a study with a planned start in February 2021.

Vir has a robust method for capitalizing on unusually successful immune responses naturally occurring in people protected from, or have recovered from, infectious diseases. The platform is used to identify rare antibodies from survivors that can potentially treat and prevent rapidly evolving and/or previously untreatable pathogens via direct pathogen neutralization and immune system stimulation. 

Vir engineers the fully human antibodies that it discovers to enhance their therapeutic potential. This platform has been used to identify and develop antibodies for pathogens including SARS-CoV-2, hepatitis B virus, influenza A, Ebola (mAb114, approved for use in the U.S. as EbangaTM and marketed by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP), malaria, and others.

Vir Biotechnology is a clinical-stage immunology company that combines immunologic insights with cutting-edge technologies to treat and prevent serious infectious diseases. For more information, please visit VIR.

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