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GSK joins up with Vir Biotech on coronavirus treatments

Mon, 6th Apr 2020 13:19

(Sharecast News) - GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology of the US have joined forces to research treatments for the virus behind the Covid-19 crisis and other coronaviruses.
The FTSE 100 drugs company is investing $250m (£204m) in Vir to gain access to the company's technology. The companies will use Vir's monoclonal antibody platform to speed up existing anti-viral antibodies and identify new ones.

San Francisco-based Vir's shares surged by almost a third in premarket trading to reach $38.30 after the partnership was announced.

The companies will look for vaccines and therapies to help combat the Covid-19 pandemic and future outbreaks. The collaboration will combine Vir's technology with GSK's expertise in functional genomics.

Hal Barron, chief scientific officer at GSK, said: "Vir's unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens, and it is highly complementary with our research and development approach to focus on the science of immunology."

The companies said their initial work would concentrate on promising antibody candidates for treating Covid-19 with plans to go direct to a phase 2 clinical trial in three to five months. The partnership will use Vir's screening and machine learning technology to identifh cellular targets whose inhibition can prevent viral infection.

GSK will spend $250m to buy Vir shares at $37.73p each - 10% more than the closing share price on 27 March. The investment and collaboration agreement will complete at the same time.

George Scangos, Vir's chief executive, said: "It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop this coronavirus pandemic. It is likely that the current coronavirus outbreak will not be the last. These insights are informing our scientific approach and we are pleased to join forces on the execution of this strategy with GSK."

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