Building off a 2020 research and development agreement for coronavirus therapies, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology, Inc. announced a binding agreement this week to expand that collaboration into new therapies for flu and other respiratory viruses.
The pair will work together on VIR-2482 and next generation antibodies to prevent or treat influenza over the course of three years. VIR-2482 is an intramuscular administered investigational monoclonal antibody (mAb) meant for use against influenza A. That treatment has already completed a phase one trial.
Under the terms of the new contract, GSK will gain exclusive rights to collaborate with Vir on these projects and gain the exclusive option to co-develop VIR-2482 after Vir completes and reports its phase two trial results for $300 million. In return, it will share development costs of all other flu mAbs. GSK will provide $225 million upfront and provide a further $120 million equity investment in VIr. An additional $200 million could be provided to Vir based on the delivery of certain regulatory milestones.
“We believe, now more than ever, that it is very important to develop new therapies to treat and ideally prevent infectious diseases,” said Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D for GSK. “I am delighted that we are expanding our collaboration with Vir, whose focus on novel antibodies, expertise in functional genomics, unique technology, and talented scientists will further strengthen GSK’s position as a world leader in infectious diseases.”
Any additional exploration could include developing up to three other antibodies for non-influenza pathogens. A current program tackling functional genomics collaboration will also expand from the development of pan-coronavirus therapeutic into other respiratory virus targets.
“As part of our functional genomics collaboration directed at COVID-19, we have turned up multiple targets that have the potential to treat influenza and other respiratory viruses, and it makes sense to extend the scope of our collaboration to include these new targets,” Dr. George Scangos, CEO of Vir Biotechnology, said. “This expanded collaboration supports the rapid advancement of multiple promising investigational compounds in our pipeline, increasing the likelihood that these potential life-saving treatments will reach patients sooner, and will advance our shared goal of developing single drugs that can address multiple ‘bugs.’”
GSK and Vir first began working together on coronavirus solutions in April 2020.