Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Sanofi and GSK candidate vaccine, biosensor to detect airborne viruses and digital supply chain solutions for Covid-19 relief

As global governments warn that a second wave of coronavirus cases could coincide with the start of the flu season, pharma companies are continuing to collaborate and develop new initiatives in their quest to find a vaccine for the virus

Fast and reliable tests to cure Covid-19 are urgently needed to bring the pandemic under control as soon as possible. Over the weeks, Pharma IQ have reported on a number of new updates on the coronavirus, including free tools to combat diabetes at home, the first FDA Emergency Use Authorization commercial test developed by Roche and a rehydration solution to relieve respiratory symptoms.

This week, the focus shifts to new partnerships, supply chain services and technologies to allow for faster identification of effective antibodies to curb the pandemic.

Sanofi and GSK share innovative technologies to develop adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine

Sanofi and GSK are mobilizing their resources to accelerate the development of a candidate vaccine and help address the ongoing pandemic. Sanofi will contribute its coronavirus S-protein, which has been based on recombinant DNA technology producing identical proteins found on the surface of the virus, and GSK will contribute its adjuvant technology to the collaboration.  According to the companies, plans to initiate phase one of clinical trials will start in the second half of 2020. If successful under regulatory guidance, development of phase two will be launched in the second half of 2021.

The combination of a protein-based antigen and adjuvant technology are well-established methods of vaccine creation. An adjuvant can be added to vaccines to enhance the immune response, which has shown to create stronger and longer lasting immunity against infections than the vaccine alone. The companies claim this method will improve the likelihood of delivering an effective vaccine to market that can be manufactured at scale, while reducing the amount of vaccine protein require per dose, contributing to more widespread use of the vaccine.

Paul Hudson, CEO at Sanofi, said: “As the world faces this unprecedented global health crisis, it is clear that no one company can go it alone. That is why Sanofi is continuing to complement its expertise and resources with our peers, such as GSK, with the goal to create and supply sufficient quantities of vaccines that will help stop this virus.”

Emma Walmsley, CEO at GSK, noted: “This collaboration brings two of the world’s largest vaccines companies together. By combining our science and our technologies, we believe we can help accelerate the global effort to develop a vaccine to protect as many people as possible from Covid-19.”

Biosensor created to detect coronavirus and stop epidemics at an early stage

A team of researchers from Empa, ETH Zurich and Zurich University Hospital have developed an optical thermal biosensor to detect the coronavirus quickly and safely.

Using localized surface plasmon resonance technology in the sensor to detect the virus, the researchers can monitor the changes of nanostructures.

In a statement, Empa said: “When the nanostructures move using this technology, they modulate the incident light in a specific wavelength range and create a plasmonic near-field around the nanostructure. When molecules bind to the surface, the local refractive index within the excited plasmonic near-field changes. An optical sensor located on the back of the sensor can be used to measure this change and thus determine whether the sample contains the RNA strands in question.”

As the coronavirus began to spread around China in January 2020, the team started to develop a sensor to identify if a specific virus was airborne. The researchers have been testing the reliability of the sensor with other closely related viruses, such as SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV2.

Jing Wang, the team’s lead professor, said: “Tests showed that the sensor can clearly distinguish between the very similar RNA sequences of the two viruses and results were ready in a matter of minutes.”

The researchers claim, the aim of the sensor is not to replace laboratory tests, but to be used as an alternative method for clinical diagnosis and measure if a virus has infected public spaces. The sensor has not yet be used to measure the air for the coronavirus as a number of steps are still need to be developed.

“Once the sensor is ready, the principle could be applied to other viruses and help to detect and stop epidemics at an early stage,” Wang noted.

Previously, Wang and his team at Empa and ETH Zurich worked on measuring, analyzing and reducing airborne pollutants such as aerosols and artificially produced nanoparticles. However, the company changed its goals and strategies of its research laboratories to address the worldwide pandemic.

Tracelink accelerates digital supply chain transformation for Covid-19 relief

Tracelink, track and trace solutions experts, has launched an agile solution designed to digitalize the pharmaceutical supply chain and has made a $1m donation to Covid-19 charitable relief efforts. The project’s agile product and investment strategy focuses on delivering solutions that will have an immediate impact, help companies meet unforeseen supply chain challenges and ensure the safe delivery of critical medicines and supplies to patients.

Also, the company said: “The new agile solution allows users to tap into their end-to-end network connectivity, data sharing and multiple party process orchestrations to give customers total visibility of their supply chain and allow them to thrive in today’s challenging environment.” 

Shabbir Dahod, president and CEO at TraceLink, said, “The world is facing a global health and supply chain crisis where the ability to collaborate and coordinate across the network has become essential to society. In response to this crisis, we urgently prioritized our product focus to deliver solutions that bring speed and agility to our customers’ supply chains, while also giving back to the industry with a charitable grant to support Covid-19 relief efforts.

“We are dedicated to helping our customers meet their compliance obligations and solve critical supply chain challenges - and will continue to make strategic business investments to further support the industry in today’s new normal.”

In more Covid-19-related news, read how Pfizer and BioNTech share resources to accelerate drug development in the battle to find a vaccine to tackle the coronavirus. Hear from Rob Everton, Vice-President at Kaon Interactive, in an on-demand Pharma IQ webinar to uncover how to use innovative technology for fast decision-making and keep up with the ever-changing life science landscape, while exploring industry-leading design tools to help customers visualize and implement solutions within their own laboratories.