2020-03-12| COVID-19

Vir Biotechnology Stocks Raise after COVID-19 Partnership with Biogen

by Rajaneesh K. Gopinath
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By Rajaneesh K. Gopinath, Ph.D.

After yesterday’s announcement of a collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), San-Francisco based Vir biotechnology’s stocks climb further, after signing a letter of intent with Biogen to develop a treatment for COVID-19.

Today, Vir Biotechnology, Inc. announced that it has signed a letter of intent with biotech giant Biogen, for the process development and clinical manufacturing of human monoclonal antibodies against the COVID-19 causing coronavirus. Acknowledging the global emergency, both parties have initiated their collaborative duties while the specifics of the deal are still getting worked out.

Following the alarming spread of the disease in over 100 countries, yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared it a global pandemic. Biogen will know first-hand about the wrath of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as its employee meeting late February turned out to be the epicenter of the outbreak in the state of Massachusetts. It’s employees constitute 77 out of the 95 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

Vir biotechnology boasts of a robust antibody platform with which it identifies rare antibodies from survivors. Using this technology, it claims to have identified several human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from SARS survivors that bind to SARS-CoV-2. Vir will evaluate the now identified antibodies and the ones in the pipeline, for use as an effective COVID-19 treatment and/or prevention.

“These exceptional circumstances presented by the threat of COVID-19 require that we work with great urgency in the interest of the public good,” said George Scangos, Ph.D., CEO, Vir. “Biogen is one of the global leaders in cell line and process development for advanced biologics; tapping into their capabilities will provide us with a U.S. base for supply and manufacture of antibody therapies.”

Vir is one of the several companies that has been at the forefront of combating the coronavirus pandemic. After identifying two antibodies mid-February, it entered collaborations with Alnylam Pharmaceuticals to develop RNAi towards COVID-19 and with Wuxi Biologics to develop additional antibodies. Only yesterday, it had announced a collaboration agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Vaccine Research Center (VRC) to advance characterization and development of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against all coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19. These recent partnerships have done its stock value, a world of good. Since the announcement of the biogen deal, its shares have been up 20%.

Related Article: First Potential Treatment for COVID-19 Greenlighted by Korean Authorities



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