The two partners will use Vir Biotechnologies’ monoclonal antibody platform technology to identify anti-viral antibodies against COVID-19.
In addition, the two partners will begin the project by accelerating development of antibody candidates already identified by Vir’s platform, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832.
Both have demonstrated high affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are effective at neutralising the virus in live virus-cellular assays, according to the companies.
The companies plan to jump the antibodies directly into a Phase II clinical trials within three to five months.
George Scangos, CEO of Vir, said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop this coronavirus pandemic. It is likely that the current coronavirus outbreak will not be the last.”
As such, the partners will utilize their own capabilities to identify anti-coronavirus compounds, such as using GSK’s knowledge of functional genomics and by combining both companies’ capacity in CRISPR screening and AI.
Despite backing away from the vaccines space earlier this year, GSK believes it can bring its technology in the area to bear on the problem alongside Vir’s work to identify neutralizing epitopes, with the newest partnership being ‘additive’ to other areas of work the former is conducting to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19.
GSK has already become one of a bevy of industry players to work together with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate a treatment for the virus.
In addition to partnering, GSK also announced that it would invest $250m (€229m) into Vir.