New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday it is mobilizing resources at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. to launch a multi-pronged response to the novel coronavirus (also known as 2019-nCoV or Wuhan coronavirus) outbreak.
As part of this work, the company initiated efforts to develop a vaccine candidate against 2019-nCoV and broadly collaborate with others to screen a library of antiviral therapies.
Identifying compounds with antiviral activity against 2019-nCoV may contribute to providing immediate relief to the current outbreak.
“J&J has a long-standing commitment to fight established and emerging epidemics and is supporting global efforts where we can make the greatest impact,” said Dr. Paul Stoffels, vice chairman of the executive committee and chief scientific officer. “We are collaborating with regulators, health care organizations, institutions and communities worldwide to help ensure our research platforms, existing science and outbreak expertise can be maximized to stem this public health threat.”
“This latest outbreak of a novel pathogen once again reinforces the importance of investing in preparedness, surveillance and response to ensure the world remains ahead of potential pandemic threats,” Stoffels said.
J&J said the vaccine program will leverage Janssen’s AdVac and PER.C6 technologies that provide the ability to rapidly upscale production of the optimal vaccine candidate. These are the same technologies that were used in the development and manufacturing of Janssen’s investigational Ebola vaccine, which is currently deployed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. They were also used to construct the Company’s Zika, RSV and HIV vaccine candidates.
Johnson & Johnson’s multi-pronged approach also includes a review of known pathways in coronavirus pathophysiology to determine whether previously tested medicines can be used to help patients survive a 2019-nCoV infection and reduce the severity of disease in non-lethal cases.
In addition, Janssen has donated 300 boxes of its HIV medication Prezcobiz (darunavir/cobicistat) to the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center and Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University to support research efforts for finding a solution against the 2019-nCoV. Another 50 boxes have been provided to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention for laboratory-based investigations (drug-screening for antiviral properties against 2019-nCoV).
All shipments were delivered and if further donations are required the company is open to cooperating with all health care institutions and agencies to support efforts in finding a solution against 2019-nCoV.