Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020

Bangla Version

Novartis to make US gene therapy vaccine hopeful

No icon Environment health

Health Desk- 29 May 2020: Swiss drugmaker Novartis re-entered vaccine making on Thursday, inking a manufacturing deal with a US team whose COVID-19 candidate relies on technology similar to that of the Swiss drugmaker's $2.1 million-per-patient gene therapy, Zolgensma.

Human trials are planned this year, said Massachusetts General Hospital and Massachusetts Eye and Ear, which are behind the early stage project, adding vaccine manufacturing at Novartis's AveXis gene therapy unit will start before Monday.

The U.S. researchers aim to insert genetic material that makes up the new coronavirus's "spikes" into a so-called adeno-associated virus (AAV), before injecting it into humans to provoke an immune response against COVID-19.

Zolgensma, developed by AveXis for deadly spinal muscular atrophy, works similarly, delivering a copy of a missing gene packed inside AAV to babies whose muscles would otherwise not develop.

While Novartis divested its vaccines business to GlaxoSmithKline in 2015, AveXis President David Lennon said his unit's gene therapy expertise made it a good fit to join the Massachusetts' effort, a major departure from traditional vaccine making.

AveXis will donate technology and supply chain resources to making vaccine for early trials, while retaining future production options, if all goes well, Lennon said.

"We are at the scale of being able to do millions of doses," he said.