Drugmaker CSL Ltd., the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the University of Queensland on Friday announced a partnership to accelerate the development, manufacture and distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
Most recently, early preclinical results of the University of Queensland Covid-19 vaccine candidate showed that it produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the virus.
The initial clinical trial of the vaccine will begin next month in Brisbane.
As part of the new agreement, CEPI and CSL will fund the development and manufacture of UQ's "molecular clamp" enabled vaccine for Covid-19.
Funding contributions will be used to provide support for the pending phase 1 safety study being led by UQ followed by subsequent late stage clinical trials, and industrial-scale manufacturing to allow the production of potentially millions of doses a year, should the product be approved.
The initial phase of large-scale production of the vaccine is planned to take place at CSL's biotech manufacturing facilities in Melbourne.
The UQ vaccine is expected to be available in 2021 should clinical trials be successful.
CSL anticipates that the production technology can be scaled to produce up to 100 million doses towards the end of next year.
The company said that it would also subcontract other global manufacturers to increase the number of doses that can be produced and broaden the geographical distribution of vaccine production.
"This significant partnership between CEPI, UQ and CSL is an important milestone in the development of UQ's promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate," Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, said in a statement.
"The partnership will enable the rapid development of the vaccine candidate through clinical trials, and by investing in large-scale manufacturing capacity now, we can reduce the time needed to deliver millions of doses of the UQ vaccine to those who need them most if it proves to be safe and effective."
CEPI entered into a framework agreement with UQ in January 2019 to provide up to $10.6 million to develop a rapid response "molecular clamp" vaccine platform, a transformative technology patented by UniQuest, UQ's technology transfer company that enables rapid vaccine design and production against outbreak viral pathogens.
In January 2020, CEPI expanded its partnership with UQ to use their rapid response molecular clamp vaccine platform to produce a vaccine candidate for Covid-19.
UQ is now aiming to take the vaccine candidate in to a phase 1 clinical trial in July.
"CSL will contribute to UQ's promising vaccine with our proprietary adjuvant, MF59, made by Seqirus, along with expertise in process science and scale-up from our Australian facilities, managing advanced clinical trials and the large-scale manufacture of the recombinant vaccine," said Andrew Cuthbertson, CSL's Chief Scientific Officer.
"Should trials be successful, this vaccine holds the potential to provide protection against this urgent public health emergency for Australians and those around the world vulnerable to this devastating virus."
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