As the nation’s largest biotech automation firm, Superior Controls (Seabrook, NH) and Banks Integration (Vacaville and San Francisco, CA) are urgently working with several long-term biotech partners in implementing automated manufacturing facilities to mass-produce critical therapies and vaccines to potentially treat patients for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. We can’t share the details of our participation, but we can summarize the publicly available information from many of the firms for whom we have worked and quoted in the past.
Alnylam Pharmaceuticals is partnering with Vir Biotechnology to develop a coronavirus treatment using an RNA interference approach to test three targets for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Amgen is partnering with Adaptive Biotechnologies to develop human neutralizing antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2. Amgen will leverage its drug development and manufacturing capabilities to advance into clinical studies the promising antibodies that can bind and neutralize SARS-CoV-2.
Biogen announced a collaboration with Vir Biotechnology to develop and manufacture therapeutic monoclonal antibodies to potentially treat for SARS-CoV-2.
Novartis is working with Incyte to start a phase III study on their JAK1/JAK2 inhibitor, Jakafi, as a treatment for patients with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm, which means an overproduction of immune cells.
Gilead Sciences’ antiviral candidate, Remdesivir, has received FDA emergency-use authorization for severe COVID-19 patients as both 5-day and 10-day treatments. Gilead officials said their study showed roughly the same improvement in patients for either time frame. Remdesivir is an intravenously-administered antiviral drug which was initially developed as a treatment against the Ebola virus but proved ineffective in a clinical trial.
GlaxoSmithKline is working with a Chinese biotech firm on a coronavirus vaccine. GSK is providing its proprietary adjuvants — compounds that enhance the effectiveness of vaccines — to Clover Biopharmaceuticals. Clover’s approach involves injecting proteins that start an immune response, thereby causing the body to resist infection.
Johnson & Johnson is developing a vaccine that would introduce patients to a deactivated version of the virus, triggering an immune response. Human trials could begin by November 2020. J&J is also working with the Federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority on treatments for patients who are already infected, a process that includes investigating whether any of its older medicines might work against COVID-19.
Moderna set a drug industry record with mRNA-1273, a vaccine candidate produced just 42 days after receiving the SARS-CoV-2 RNA sequence. The company is working with the National Institutes of Health on a volunteer study that began in April 2020. Moderna’s product is a synthetic strand of messenger RNA, designed to convince body cells to produce antibodies against the virus.
Pfizer is testing and developing multiple therapies including a compound that was originally used to treat SARS, a different coronavirus, and is said to block COVID-19 from replicating, a rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz, which may provide help for those suffering from respiratory problems from the virus, and a vaccine that could be in human trials this month.
Regeneron immunized its proprietary antibody-generating mice with a harmless analog of the novel coronavirus, generating hundreds of antibodies or potential treatments for the infection. Regeneron has selected the two most potent antibodies amongst those identified and will advance the combination cocktail into human studies by early summer 2020.
Sanofi is taking some of the coronavirus’s RNA and mixing it with genetic material from a harmless virus, creating a chimera that can prime the immune system without making patients sick. Sanofi expects to have a vaccine candidate to test in the lab within six months.
Takeda is at work on a treatment derived from the blood of people who have already been infected by COVID-19. The company is drawing blood from coronavirus survivors, harvesting the plasma, and then isolating the antibodies that kept those patients alive. According to Takeda, the therapy could be available to patients in 12 to 18 months.
Thermo Fisher Scientific received FDA approval to manufacture and supply COVID-19 test kits which will indicate the presence of the virus within 4 hours.
In total, there are currently an estimated 197 distinct therapies and 111 separate vaccines being developed and/or manufactured to treat COVID-19 throughout the world. Most of these will not work. In fact, historically, approximately 6% of preclinical vaccines demonstrate the necessary efficacy during their average 10-year clinical trial before getting to market. Naturally, there is more urgency today and companies, with the cooperation of a very motivated FDA, are finding ways to accelerate their development and testing.
Superior Controls and Banks Integration are very proud to be serving a small part in this worldwide effort. For more information on our experience in the life sciences industry, click here.