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March 19, 2021


This Week in Pharma


By MastersConnect

Our roundup of some of the key headlines this week...

Medicago and GSK start Phase III trial of plant-derived COVID-19 vaccine

The FDA granted Fast Track designation on 17th February 2021, allowing the development and review of new medicines and vaccines to be expedited. 

The vaccine candidate is composed of recombinant spike (S) glycoprotein, expressed as virus-like particles (VLPs), co-administered with GSK's pandemic adjuvant. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 21 days apart. 

This late stage clinical testing will share results later this year. 

 Welsh AI startup raises £1.4m 

Antiverse, a new biotech startup from Cardiff, has raised seed funding to help develop its artificial intelligence (AI)-based platform to discover therapeutic antibodies. 

The startup combines machine learning with phage display techniques, allowing it to model antibody-antigen binding. It says this can cut the time taken to develop drug candidates and enable development of drugs for difficult targets. 

The cash raised will be used to build a new laboratory in Cardiff and expand the technical team, recruiting specialists in machine learning, laboratory science, and structural biology. 

J&J Covid Vaccine receives EU approval 

 The European Commission has granted conditional marketing authorisation for Johnson & Johnson's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine, for individuals aged 18 and over. 

J&J said in a statement that it aims to begin delivery of the single-dose vaccine to the EU in the second half of April 2021, and is planning to supply 200 million doses to the EU (plus Norway and Iceland) by the end of the year.

Roche buys GenMark

In a deal worth $1.8bn, Swiss company Roche has entered into an agreement to acquire GenMark Diagnostics. 

Roche will be adding GenMark's respiratory pathogen panels to its diagnostics division, which has grown during the pandemic. The acquisition will broaden Roche's molecular diagnostics portfolio. 

The deal has been approved by the boards of each company and is expected to close in Q2 of 2021. 

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