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Chimeron Bio & NCBID to develop COVID-19 vaccine

RNA therapeutics company, Chimeron Bio, and George Mason University’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID), will together develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine development will be based on Chimeron Bio’s ChaESAR self-amplifying RNA technology and will integrate Mason’s complimenting expertise and Biomedical Research Laboratory (BRL), a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institutes of Health (NIAID/NIH) supported, state-of-the-art Regional Biocontainment Laboratory for the rapid screening of the company’s vaccine pipeline. ChaESAR, a self-amplifying RNA delivery technology, can deliver highly immunogenic viral genes to elicit rapid and sustained immune response. ChaESAR’s ability to amplify the production of viral antigens inside the body is expected to generate a vaccine response at much lower doses compared to traditional mRNA approaches. Moreover, the ChaESARTM particle is a self-assembling delivery system which bypasses the need for expensive in-vitro RNA synthesis. Due to its superior science and manufacturing advantage, a single batch of a low-dose ChaESARTM formulation could vaccinate many more people worldwide, thereby offering a rapid, effective, and affordable solution.

AbCellera raises $105m to advance antibody drug discovery platform

AbCellera has closed a $105 million Series B financing to further advance its antibody drug discovery platform. The financing was led by OrbiMed and current investor DCVC Bio, with an investor syndicate that includes Viking Global Investors, Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Eli Lilly and Company, University of Minnesota, and Presight Capital. With the proceeds of the financing, AbCellera will expand its capacity and invest in technologies that complement and extend its proprietary antibody discovery engine. “Drug development takes too long, fails too often, and costs too much. With the backing of visionary investors, we will double-down on our strategy of making long-term investments in technology and teams that are needed to put drug development on the fast track,” said Carl Hansen, Ph.D., CEO of AbCellera. “We’re building a modern operating system for drug developers to ensure the best science is translated quickly into new therapies for patients.” AbCellera will use the funds to deepen its technology stack, creating and aggregating novel tools to propel the development of new biological modalities, from monoclonal, multi-specific, and single-domain antibodies, to bioconjugates, gene-encoded biologics, and cell therapies. The funds will also support the growth of company’s facilities and teams, expanding its workforce, opening a new 48,000 sq ft facility in 221 and building a GMP manufacturing facility for production of biologics for clinical testing.

Novavax expands large-scale manufacturing capacity

Novavax, a late-stage biotech developing next-gen vaccines for serious infectious diseases, has expanded its large-scale manufacturing capacity with the $167 million acquisition of Praha Vaccines – part of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group. The acquisition includes a biologics manufacturing facility and associated assets in Bohumil, Czech Republic. The facility is expected to provide an annual capacity of over 1 billion doses of antigen starting in 2021 for Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373. NVX‑CoV2373 consists of a stable, prefusion protein antigen made using its proprietary nanoparticle technology and includes Novavax’ proprietary Matrix‑M adjuvant. The acquisition also includes a 150,000-square foot state of the art vaccine and biologics manufacturing facility and other support buildings, along with the existing employees and all related and required infrastructure. The facility is completing a renovation that includes Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) capabilities. As part of the transaction, approximately 150 employees with significant experience in vaccine manufacturing and support have joined Novavax. “Manufacturing capacity is a critical component of our strategy to deliver a vaccine for the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and CEO of Novavax. “This acquisition provides the vital assets required to produce more than 1 billion doses per year. In parallel with ramping up production at Bohumil, we will continue efforts to expand antigen capacity in the US and Asia, and increase production of Matrix-M to match antigen capacity at multiple sites globally.”