Vir Biotechnology and Samsung Biologics will be working together in a major deal of $362 million to scale up the manufacturing of Vir’s monoclonal antibody program as a potential treatment for the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
In their agreement, Samsung Biologics will commence manufacturing as early as October with its first engineering run and potentially begin producing commercial batches starting in 2021 from its Plant 3 facility.
Vir aims to have two of its COVID-19 antibody candidates, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832 enter into phase 2 testing within the next three to five months.
Vir has also signed partnerships agreements with Wuxi Biologics and Biogen, as well as an expanded RNAi partnership with Alnylam.
Vir’s Chief Executive Officer, George Scangos said that given the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a significant need around the world for antibody therapies thus, they are taking proactive steps to reserve large scale manufacturing capacity to be ready to move quickly with its antibody candidates.
Vir’s agreement with Wuxi Biologics happened late February, the agreement includes the scaling up of cell line development, process development and clinical manufacturing for its monoclonal antibodies, while Wuxi Biologics receive commercial rights to a possible approved therapy in China while Vir retained exclusive rights in other countries.
And in March, Vir signed a letter of intent with Biogen to work out cell line development and process development and handle clinical manufacturing for Vir’s monoclonal antibodies.
Meanwhile, in April, Vir extended its RNAi partnership with Alnylam to explore whether the technology might be able to address the novel coronavirus. Those companies had entered an infectious disease collaboration back in 2017.