GlaxoSmithKline injects US$250mln into US biotech Vir in coronavirus treatment collaboration

Vir's has two candidates that have proved highly potent in neutralising SARS-CoV-2 in live virus-cellular assays

GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) is to invest US$250mln into Nasdaq-listed Vir Biotechnology Inc (NASDAQ:VIR), with the two companies to work together on potential treatments for coronavirus.

It is the pharma major and vaccine specialist’s first announcement specifically about the virus since the outbreak.

The collaboration will use Vir's platform technology to identify new anti-viral antibodies for therapies while Glaxo will screening for anti-coronavirus compounds and research into SARS-CoV-2 and other linked vaccines.

The initial focus will be on two promising candidates already identified by Vir, which will be fast-tracked into phase II trials within 3-5 months.

These have proved highly potent in neutralising SARS-CoV-2 in live virus-cellular assays, Glaxo said.

Hal Barron, Glaxo’s chief scientific officer added: "Vir's unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens and it is highly complementary with our R&D approach to focus on the science of immunology."

George Scangos, Vir’s chief executive, said that multiple therapeutic approaches, used in combination or in sequence, will be necessary to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is likely that the current coronavirus outbreak will not be the last. "These insights are informing our scientific approach and we are pleased to join forces on the execution of this strategy with GSK, who have a like-minded R&D strategy.”

Glaxo is paying $37.73 per share for its stake in Vir, a 10% premium to the closing share price on Friday.

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