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GSK, Vir Collaborate To Develop Potential Treatments For COVID-19

GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK,GSK.L) has collaborated with Vir Biotechnology Inc. (VIR) to research and develop potential treatments for COVID-19.

In addition, GlaxoSmithKline will invest $250 million in Vir. The equity investment is priced at $37.73 per share, a 10% premium to the closing share price on March 27.

In Monday, pre-market trade, VIR is trading at $38.30, up $9.30 or 32.07 percent.

The collaboration will use Vir's proprietary monoclonal antibody platform technology to accelerate existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventative options to help address the current COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.

The companies will also apply their combined expertise to research SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19, and other coronavirus vaccines.

The companies noted that the initial focus of the collaboration will be to accelerate the development of specific antibody candidates identified by the Vir platform, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, that have demonstrated high affinity for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are highly potent in neutralising SARS-CoV-2 in live virus-cellular assays.

The companies plan to proceed directly into a phase 2 clinical trial within the next three to five months.

In addition, the companies have also agreed to conduct research into SARS-CoV-2 and other coronavirus vaccines by coupling GSK's vaccines technologies and expertise with Vir's ability to identify neutralising epitopes that are present across entire viral families. The efforts will be additive to other initiatives GSK is advancing to develop a potential vaccine for COVID-19.

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