Cobra Bio leading the fight against COVID-19

Cobra Biologics, one of Keele University Science and Innovation Park’s longest-serving tenants, has joined two consortia to rapidly develop a vaccine against COVID-19.

Cobra, an international contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) for biologics and pharmaceuticals, is working as part of a consortium led by the Jenner Institute at Oxford University to rapidly develop, scale-up and produce a potential adenoviral vaccine candidate known as ChAdOx1.

ChAdOx1 is one of five frontrunner vaccines in development around the world, and is expected to be the UK’s first COVID-19 vaccine.

The ChAdOx1 consortium is currently recruiting individuals from a range of ages in the UK to trial the vaccine’s efficacy - due to commence in April 2020. This is a crucial step in the vaccine’s development.

Cobra is actively planning for a fast set-up phase to facilitate the efficient production of a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) working cell bank and then 200L GMP viral vector vaccine. The consortium partners expect to develop and manufacture the vaccine candidate in multiple batches, to support a one-million dose scale batch size, by summer 2020.

Developed at the Jenner Institute, ChAdOx1 is one of the most promising vaccine technologies for COVID-19 as it can generate a strong immune response from one dose. The vaccine candidate allows it to be given safely to vulnerable members of the public, including children, the elderly and those with a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes.

As well as working as part of the ChAdOx1 consortium, Cobra’s Matfors site in Sweden has also partnered with one of the world’s leading medical universities – the Karolinska Institutet – for the research, development and clinical trial testing of a DNA vaccine against the virus. The collaboration has been awarded €3million emergency funding by Horizon 2020 as part of the OPENCORONA consortium to support global efforts tackling the pandemic.

Peter Coleman, Chief Executive at Cobra Biologics, said: “The organisations within both consortia are experts from across industry and academia, with the experience, capability and conviction to deliver a successful outcome. Cobra is privileged to have been invited to participate and contribute to the fight against COVID-19, as this virus continues to impact the globe exponentially.”

Jonathan Wastling, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and a Professor of Infectious Diseases, said: “It’s fantastic to see a Keele-based company at the very forefront of the international fight against COVID-19. The impact that Cobra’s work could have is hugely significant. Although making an effective vaccine that is widely available is likely to be a little way off, vaccination will be at the heart of a longer-term response to managing COVID-19 and has the potential to save millions of lives across the world. On behalf of Keele University, I wish them every success in their collaborations.”

To find out more about Cobra Biologics’ work, please visit cobrabio.com.