SK Bioscience gets CEPI's additional fund for research into COVID-19 virus variants

By Lim Chang-won Posted : March 11, 2021, 10:57 Updated : March 11, 2021, 10:57

[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- To secure COVID-19 vaccines capable of preventing mutant viruses, SK Bioscience will receive an additional research fund of up to $14.2 million from an international foundation that finances vaccine research projects, by utilizing the development platform of its vaccine candidate code-named GBP510 which is at the stage of clinical trials.

As a result, SK Bioscience, a partner for South Korea's state project to develop COVID-19 vaccines, can receive a total of $40.3 million from CEPI for GBP510, which is under development in a joint research project with the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington in Seattle.

GBP510 has been selected for vaccine development by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which launched a Wave 2 project to discover new vaccines with money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project is aimed at finding universal and economical candidate materials that are easy to store and improve the number of inoculations, productivity and immune response.

When development makes progress, SK Bioscience said it would carry out research into "booster shots," which are additionally inoculated with vaccines, and multi-vaccines that prevent more than one type of virus. "With the vaccine platform that is being developed smoothly, we will be able to quickly complete the research on mutated viruses," said SK Bioscience CEO Ahn Jae-yong.

SK Bioscience is also involved in the development of NBP2001, a recombinant vaccine manufactured from the virus' surface antigen protein through genetic combination. The company has promised to develop safe vaccines through the protein culture and refining platform of an antigen produced with gene recombination technology. SK Bioscience has production partnerships with AstraZeneca PLC, a Swedish-British pharmaceutical company, and Novavax, an American vaccine development company.

SK Bioscience set a new record in South Korea's stock market history with 64 trillion won ($56.2 billion) in investor deposits during a two-day subscription period for its initial public offering (IPO) that closed on March 10. Shares will be listed on March 18 with the IPO price set at 65,000 won per share.

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