IAVI and Merck join hands with Serum Institute to develop neutralising antibodies against COVID-19

IAVI and Merck join hands with Serum Institute to develop neutralising antibodies against COVID-19

The Serum Institute of India (SII), along with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI), a non-profit scientific research organisation, has signed a pact with Merck to develop SARS-CoV-2 neutralising monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

A monoclonal antibody (mAb) is an antibody made by cloning a unique white blood cell. These are man-made proteins that act like human antibodies in the immune system.

The SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were co-invented by IAVI and Scripps Research as innovative interventions to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The agreement builds on the advanced antibody discovery and optimisation expertise of IAVI and Scripps Research, gained from years of experience in HIV broadly neutralising antibody research and development, and on Merck’s and Serum Institute’s significant capabilities in design and scale up of accelerated manufacturing processes for mAbs production,” said a statement issued by the SII.

The global development plan of the antibody is being led by the three organizations in partnership.

Once the highly potent and broadly cross-reactive SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibody candidates being advanced through this partnership are shown to be efficacious in clinical trial (either as a single antibody or a potential combination), then Merck will lead commercialisation in developed countries. SII will lead global manufacturing as well as commercialisation in low- and middle-low-income countries, including India.

“We’re acutely aware of the tremendous potential for monoclonal antibodies to be used in COVID-19 response. By combining the scientific achievements of IAVI and Scripps Research with our partners’ in development, manufacturing, and distribution expertise, we are hopeful that this partnership will result in globally accessible antibodies that are available to all who can benefit from them,” said Mark Feinberg, MD, Ph D., president and CEO of IAVI.