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Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

CEPI to provide up to $10 million for clinical studies of SK bioscience COVID-19 vaccine

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The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) will provide up to $10 million for the cost of a phase 1/2 study and materials manufacturing for a recombinant protein vaccine candidate (GBP510) created by South Korea-based SK bioscience.

This vaccine is meant for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Created through a nanoparticle platform, the recombinant-protein candidate is being funded thanks to a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided up to $20 million for CEPI’s Wave 2 COVID vaccine portfolio back in November.

“I’m pleased to expand our partnership with SK bioscience to develop their vaccine candidate, GBP510, which marks CEPI’s first investment in ‘Wave 2’ vaccines,” CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett said. “Going forwards, developing these cutting-edge ‘Wave 2’ vaccines will expand our armamentarium against COVID-19 and enable the use of vaccines in a wider range of settings and populations, providing the world with additional options to control this deadly disease.”

This candidate comprises two components: a recombinant protein with a part of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and a nanoparticle to which it can attach. This optimally exposes the antigen therein, which the immune system can then detect and attack. SK bioscience hopes this effort will give the treatment scalability, thermostability, and potential for use on other, future pathogens beyond COVID-19. Preclinical studies have already given hope regarding its efficacy.

Wave 2 vaccines like this could allow users protection after a single dose and wider distribution of protection, among other advantages. This would help the world maintain a response to COVID-19 if it becomes endemic.

“We are very pleased and honoured to collaborate with CEPI, sharing the ultimate goal of introducing a preventive measure against COVID-19 with our vaccine candidate,” Jaeyong Ahn, CEO of SK bioscience, said. “SK bioscience is developing a number of COVID-19 vaccine candidates to deliver the best COVID-19 vaccines that are accessible to the world with proven safety and effectiveness, utilizing our state-of-the-art vaccine platform technology.”

SK bioscience plans to begin a phase 1/2 study of its vaccine candidate before the end of the year.