Altimmune partners with Lonza on intranasal COVID-19 vaccine

The two companies ready AdCOVID for a commercial launch in 2021, with a clinical trial to begin in Q4.

The next-generation of COVID-19 vaccines is already being developed, even with the first generation yet to reach the public.

The companies involved are finding ways to differentiate their vaccines from the previous generation. This has led companies, such as Vaxart, to produce oral vaccine candidates and sees Altimmune further advance its intranasal vaccine candidate by signing a manufacturing deal with Lonza.

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The agreement means that Lonza will provide commercial production capacity for AdCOVID from its Houston, US, site.

Altimmune plans to enter clinical trials with the vaccine candidate by the fourth quarter of this year, with a data readout expected in the first quarter of 2021, followed by ‘commercial-readiness’ in 2021.

The company believes that its vaccine candidate could enter the market with advantages over those utilizing other forms of delivery, as it requires only a single dose and the potential to be stored at room temperature.

Scot Roberts, CSO at Altimmune, told Bioprocess Insider that the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccine delivered via intranasal spray would extend beyond convenience.

Roberts explained, “The intranasal delivery method is designed to stimulate both systemic immunity and local mucosal immunity in the nasal cavity and respiratory tract. Local mucosal immunity is important to block SARS-CoV-2 viral replication in the nose – the point of disease initiation and spread.”

He added that nasal mucosal immunity can only be achieved with a vaccine delivered intranasally, not intramuscularly.

Regarding the potential vaccine’s stability at room temperature, Roberts stated that it would be stable for years when refrigerated and for months when held at room temperature.

This could make logistics easier, with no cold chain requirement, as well as simplifying storage at the pharmacy and community clinic level.

Based on present clinical studies, the company believes that the vaccine will provide immunity of up to a year or more followed a single dose.

Another partner for Lonza

The deal for Lonza represents a deepening of its partner portfolio based on the production of a COVID-19 vaccine and therapies. The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) has already signed agreements to support AstraZeneca’s potential antibody therapy and Moderna’s mRNA vaccine.

Fatma Senkesen, senior director, marketing and commercial Development, Cell and Gene Technologies, Lonza, told Bioprocess Insider that the company has already received over 100 COVID-19 related inquires.

According to Charles Christy, head of commercial solutions Ibex Dedicate, Lonza, work being done on vaccines against COVID-19 has also served to highlight the range of vaccines being developed, “including inactivated, non-replicating viral vectors, adjuvanted recombinant proteins, DNA, mRNA, live attenuated virus, protein sub-unit, T cell-based vaccines and so on.”

Christy stated that the vaccine market is developing annually at over 9%, and with two novel viruses being identified each year, this growth is expected to continue into the future. As such, the CDMO expects demand for manufacturing services to rise proportionally into the future.

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