Sanofi and GSK have agreed to collaborate on developing an adjuvanted vaccine for COVID-19, leveraging advanced technology from both companies.

Under the collaboration, Sanofi will contribute its S-protein COVID-19 antigen, developed based on recombinant DNA technology. The technology has been used to produce an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus.

Also, the company has incorporated the DNA sequence encoding the antigen into the DNA of baculovirus expression platform, for its licensed recombinant influenza product in the US.

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said: “As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone. That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.”

A protein-based antigen combined with an adjuvant is widely used in several vaccines, where an adjuvant is added to the vaccine to enhance the immune response.

GSK said that an adjuvant could reduce the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, facilitating the production of more vaccine doses and protect more people in a pandemic situation. The company will contribute its pandemic adjuvant technology to the collaboration.

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said: “This collaboration brings two of the world’s largest vaccines companies together. By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from COVID-19.”

GSK and Sanofi secured BARDA funding to develop recombinant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate

GSK and Sanofi are planning to begin a phase 1 clinical trial in the second half of 2020, aimed at completing the development and commercialising the vaccine in the second half of 2021, subject to regulatory considerations.

In addition, both companies have previously announced the development of a recombinant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, and the project is being supported through funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), in the US.

BARDA Director Rick A Bright said: “Strategic alliances among vaccine industry leaders are essential to make a coronavirus vaccine available as soon as possible.

“Development of the adjuvanted recombinant-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate holds the potential to lower the vaccine dose to provide vaccine to a greater number of people to end this pandemic, and help the world become better prepared or even prevent future coronavirus outbreaks.”