Oxford Biomedica to make AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for trials

Oxford Biomedica will make trial supplies of AZD1222 – AstraZeneca’s SARS-CoV-2 candidate vaccine – under a deal agreed this week.

The cell and gene therapy contractor will make the adenovirus vector-based vaccine at its recently established manufacturing facility – known as Oxbox – at the Oxford Science Park in Oxford, UK.

The agreement – which is for one year – will see Oxford Biomedica supply AstraZeneca with multiple batches of vaccine, the majority of which are expected to be produced throughout 2020.

Image: iStock/marcoscisetti

An Oxford Biomedica spokesman cited the firm’s core lentiviral vector business as key. He said the firm “is a world leader in doing this and was the first commercially approved manufacturer. They provide lentiviral vectors to Novartis for Kymriah amongst many others.”

He said that Oxford Biomedica has just completed its new facilities with four GMP clean rooms adding that the initial agreement with AstraZeneca is for use of one clean room.

According to the contractor’s press release the commercial supply agreement may be extended further depending on the progression of the programme.

Manufacturing

AZD1222 – which was previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 – was invented by researchers at the University of Oxford.

AZD1222 is an adenovirus vaccine vector (AAV) that contains genetic material encoding a recombinant version of the surface spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.

The vaccine entered a Phase I/II study last month.

Manufacture was carried out by the Clinical BioManufacturing Facility (CBF) at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, the UK Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), Pall Biotech, Cobra Biologics and Halix.

The University of Oxford announced AstraZeneca as a manufacturing partner at the end of April.

Joint effort

Last week the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) provided AstraZeneca with $1.2 billion to fund development and manufacture of the vaccine.

At the time AZ said it would use the money to increase manufacturing capacity to make the vaccine “widely accessible around the world in an equitable manner.”

AstraZeneca is collaborating with countries and organizations including the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and WHO.

It also announced it is in talks with the Serum Institute of India and other potential partners to increase production and distribution.

Oxford Biomedica CEO John Dawson said: “We are proud to be a part of the manufacturing consortium working with the Jenner Institute at University of Oxford, for the early manufacturing and scale up of this viral vector-based candidate for COVID-19.

“Following the recent announcement of an agreement between the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, we are very pleased to be one of AstraZeneca’s global network of manufacturing partners, and look forward to them being the third company to have rapid access to our specialised manufacturing capacity for this vaccine candidate at Oxbox”.

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