First J&J, now Sanofi teams with BARDA to tackle coronavirus

Sanofi Pasteur has joined Johnson & Johnson as the second firm to team up with BARDA to take on coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to a statement, Sanofi Pasteur will use recombinant DNA tech to make a vaccine against the virus that has sickened tens of thousands and resulted in hundreds of deaths since it emerged in China last year.

The plan is to use the Sanofi technology to reverse engineer proteins isolated from the virus to produce DNA sequences.

Image: iStock/nito100

These sequences will then be mass produced using Sanofi Pasteur’s baculoviral expression system and formulated into a vaccine that elicits an immune response.

The approach was developed for Flublok, a recombinant vaccine against influenza subtypes A and B.

Sanofi’s vaccines unit added the recombinant DNA tech and expression system to its arsenal when it acquired Protein Sciences in 2017.

Coronavirus efforts

Sanofi Pasteur plans to further investigate an advanced pre-clinical SARS vaccine candidate that could protect against COVID-19 according to David Loew, Global Head of Vaccines at Sanofi.

“Addressing a global health threat such as this newest coronavirus is going to take a collaborative effort, which is why we are working with BARDA to quickly advance a potential vaccine candidate.

“While we are lending our expertise where possible, we believe the collaboration with BARDA may provide the most meaningful results in protecting the public from this latest outbreak.”

This view is shared by BARDA director Rick Bright, who said, “Emerging global health threats like the 2019 novel coronavirus require a rapid response.”

Sanofi has previously worked with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In December, the firm announced it will set up a vaccine manufacturing facility in collaboration with BARDA – a unit of HHS – as part of the US’ pandemic preparedness programme.

Earlier this month Johnson & Johnson’s unit Janssen Pharmaceutical teamed up with BARDA to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.  At the time Janssen said it would work to upscale production and manufacturing capacities, leveraging its AdVac and PER.C6 technologies.

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