Johnson & Johnson on Friday said its Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. entered into a collaboration with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to support the development of a preventive vaccine candidate for COVID-19.
The parties commenced preclinical testing of multiple vaccine prospects, with the aim to identify a COVID-19 vaccine candidate for clinical trials by the end of March.
Janssen said it is optimistic that, in collaboration with multiple global strategic partners, it can initiate a Phase 1 clinical study of a potential vaccine candidate by the end of the year.
“It is critical to work with the best scientific minds as we look to rapidly identify and develop solutions to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We are grateful for talented and experienced collaboration partners like Dan Barouch and his team at BIDMC.”
“By mobilizing our collective resources, we believe we can leverage the top science and cutting-edge capabilities to respond to this pandemic,” Stoffels added.
Johnson & Johnson said that BIDMC Director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research and the Ragon Institute Dr. Dan Barouch’s team is well-known for its work on the pathogenesis and immunology of viral infections and the development of vaccine strategies for global infectious diseases.
“We are currently evaluating a series of potential vaccine candidates for COVID-19,” Barouch said. “This collaboration with Janssen is aimed at the development of a COVID-19 vaccine that would allow for rapid development, large-scale manufacturing, and global delivery.”
Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to expedite development and production of a vaccine are enhanced by the existing COVID-19 vaccine collaborations between Janssen and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
In parallel to these efforts, Janssen is preparing to upscale production and manufacturing capacities to required levels to meet global public health vaccination needs.
Janssen’s vaccine program will use the Janssen AdVac and PER.C6 technologies that provide the ability to rapidly upscale production of an optimal vaccine candidate.
The company is leveraging its proven vaccine technology that it is also using to develop its investigational Ebola, Zika, RSV and HIV vaccines. Research and collaboration on preclinical work for Zika and HIV vaccine candidates at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was foundational to developing these vaccines.