Serum Institute, Merck & IAVI tie up to develop Covid-19 treatment therapy

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October 23, 2020 7:30 AM

Serum Institute of India has joined hands with Merck KGaA, Germany, and IAVI, a non-profit research organisation, to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

covid 19According to the scientists, including those from Osaka University in Japan, the work may lead to fast and accurate screening tests for diseases like COVID-19 and influenza. (Representational image)

Serum Institute of India has joined hands with Merck KGaA, Germany, and IAVI, a non-profit research organisation, to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). This has been co-invented by IAVI and Scripps Research for Covid-19 treatment. Monoclonal antibodies is a therapy that has been out of reach for low-and middle-income countries. Neutralising mAbs against SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be promising candidates for Covid-19 treatment and prevention, especially for those who remain unvaccinated, have medical conditions or are older and vaccines do not offer them protection.

This therapy will not only treat Covid-19 but could also become a tool for prevention of Covid-19, Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute, said. “We have joined forces with IAVI and Merck in the fight against Covid-19 with the aim of developing monoclonal antibodies for global access. We and our partners are on a productive path that will lead to a much-needed, globally available tool for Covid-19 treatment and possibly prevention,” Poonawalla said.

Under IAVI’s agreement with Merck and Serum, the partners will conduct an accelerated, integrated program of preclinical and clinical research to evaluate the antibodies for treatment of Covid-19. A Phase I clinical trial is expected to start early in 2021. Once mAb candidates being developed be shown to be safe and efficacious, Serum will lead global manufacturing as well as commercialisation in low and middle-low-income countries, including India, a Serum release said. The two companies have broad networks across complementary geographic areas that will be crucial to reach given the worldwide spread of Covid-19, the company said. Merck will lead commercialisation in developed countries, while Serum will lead global manufacturing as well as commercialisation in low- and middle-low-income countries, including India.

Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, said: “We are hopeful that this partnership will result in globally accessible antibodies that are available to all who can benefit from them,” Feinberg said.

Belén Garijo, vice-chair of the executive board and deputy CEO, Merck, said, together with IAVI and Serum Institute, they would demonstrate the potential application of these monoclonal antibodies in the management of Covid-19.

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