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GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Collaborate On COVID-19 Vaccine Development: What You Should Know

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COVID-19 vaccine development has become a crowded field, with about 70 players working for a breakthrough, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization.

Sanofi SA (NASDAQ: SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) announced a collaboration Tuesday to develop an adjuvanted vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The companies said a letter of intent has been signed.

Sanofi To Contribute S-Protein

Sanofi, which is already working on an  S-protein vaccine in preclinical studies, will contribute its S-protein COVID-19 antigen based on recombinant DNA technology, according to the companies.

This technology has already produced an exact genetic match to proteins found on the surface of the virus, and the DNA sequence encoding the antigen has been combined into the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform.

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GSK To Contribute Adjuvant

GSK, which is currently working in three other partnerships, will make its pandemic adjuvant technology available to the partnership with Sanofi. An adjuvant is added to vaccines to enhance the immune response, helping to create a stronger and longer-lasting immunity against infections than a vaccine in isolation.

The adjuvant reduces the amount of vaccine protein required per dose, allowing more vaccines to be produced.

GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi's Development Timeline

GSK and Sanofi said they plan to initiate Phase 1 clinical trials in the second half of 2020. If the trials prove successful, and subject to regulatory considerations, the companies said they intend to pursue the development required to make a vaccine available in the second half of 2021.

"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," Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson said in a statement.

In premarket trading Tuesday, Sanofi shares were adding 4.12% to $46.21 and GSK shares were gaining 1.52% to $39.53.

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