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Novavax Trials Highlight Dozens of Maryland Companies Fighting COVID - NBC4 Washington

2 months ago 44

When Novavax Inc. received $1.6 cardinal past twelvemonth from the national authorities to velocity up investigating and accumulation of a coronavirus vaccine, immoderate observers were incredulous. The tiny biotechnology firm, based successful Gaithersburg, Maryland, was mostly chartless and had ne'er successfully brought a merchandise to market.

But present that the institution nears completion of its Phase 3 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, which was recovered to beryllium astir 90% effectual during objective investigating successful the United Kingdom, it is grabbing headlines astir the world.

Novavax’s newfound fame is casting a airy not lone connected its ain unsocial story, but besides — much broadly — connected Maryland’s increasing biohealth industry. About 40 companies successful Maryland are playing immoderate relation successful the coronavirus response, either by producing a vaccine, medication, therapeutics, diagnostic tests oregon supplying research, according to Martin Rosendale, the main enforcement of Maryland Tech Council, a commercialized relation that supports exertion and beingness subject companies.

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When the pandemic archetypal surfaced, Maryland Tech Council created what it called the “Maryland COVID Coalition” that pulled unneurotic dozens of companies from crossed the authorities that were moving on, oregon starting to enactment on, coronavirus-related products. The radical met monthly to stock probe and resources. “We realized however superior it was going to beryllium and the effect was going to beryllium happening present successful Maryland,” said Rosendale. “Everybody came together, everybody realized that we needed to enactment together,” helium said.

One of the starring companies is Emergent BioSolutions Inc., besides headquartered successful Gaithersburg, founded 22 years agone and champion known for supplying immense amounts of anthrax vaccine to the U.S. government’s exigency aesculapian reserves, which are stockpiled successful the lawsuit of a violent attack. Emergent not lone manufactures its ain proprietary vaccines and pharmaceuticals but besides contracts retired its manufacturing capabilities to different companies and the national government.

In the past year, the institution has landed 9 contracts to manufacture coronavirus-related products for companies, including manufacturing each oregon portion of vaccines for Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca plc.

The declaration with J&J unsocial calls for Emergent to manufacture 1 cardinal doses of the COVID vaccine. The U.S. national authorities plans this week to acquisition an further 100 cardinal of J&J’s single-shot doses for Americans, connected apical of an archetypal 100 cardinal doses purchased past summertime arsenic portion of Operation Warp Speed.

Emergent is 1 of 10 companies worldwide helping to nutrient the J&J vaccine, according to J&J’s website. While it’s not antithetic for cause companies to declaration retired immoderate of its manufacturing capabilities, the existent pandemic unreserved has prompted vaccine makers to spouse with a larger fig of contractors successful an effort to standard up quickly. Earlier this month, the White House announced that Merck, a pharmaceutical elephantine based successful New Jersey, volition besides assistance nutrient the J&J vaccine.

The COVID contracts helped to sharply boost Emergent net past year. The institution reported gross implicit $1.6 cardinal for 2020, up 41% from 2019. Its nett income jumped to $305.1 million, up from $54.5 cardinal successful 2019.

Each declaration varies successful scope. Some contracts necessitate Emergent to supply each 3 stages of a drug’s production, from improvement to producing substances that spell into the cause to the finished vaccine. Other contracts necessitate Emergent to supply conscionable 1 signifier of production.

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Emergent has 4 facilities successful Maryland, and astir 1,000 of its full 2,400 workforce is employed successful the state. The Gaithersburg installation handles improvement enactment and the Bayview (Baltimore) installation conducts enactment connected substances. The manufacturing plants successful Rockville and Camden Yards are for “fill and finishing” wherever the merchandise is loaded into vials, labeled and placed successful boxes for shipment.

Syed Husain, who heads Emergent’s declaration improvement and manufacturing division, said the company’s Baltimore and Rockville plants are capable to manufacture 4 antithetic vaccines astatine the aforesaid clip but successful abstracted suites. “Think of it arsenic 4 plants wrong 1 plant,” helium said. “Everything is segregated. So we’re moving connected 1 merchandise (and) that’s the lone happening that tin beryllium successful a suite. But fixed the information that it’s multi-product capable, you tin enactment connected 1 product, and past you tin alteration implicit and past enactment connected different product.”

Husain said that accumulation has accelerated since October 2020, with plants operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “We are manufacturing cause substance to enactment hundreds of millions of doses connected a monthly ground and much than a cardinal doses annually,” helium said.

Meanwhile, Emergent is processing its ain products, including 2 plasma-based therapeutics that could beryllium imaginable treatments for hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease. The institution announced successful October that 1 of the therapeutics entered Phase 3 objective trials.

Other Maryland companies moving connected COVID-19 products see Altimmune Inc., which is moving connected a vaccine and therapy that tin beryllium sprayed into the nasal cavity alternatively of being administered via a changeable successful the arm; Qiagen NV, which is processing a accelerated trial that tin observe coronavirus wrong an hour; Amarex Clinical Research LLC, moving connected a attraction for immoderate COVID-19 symptoms; and Vigene Biosciences Inc., which provides viral vector-based cistron transportation services and products for probe and objective applications.

Maryland has a precocious attraction of biohealth companies successful portion owed its adjacent proximity to the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration arsenic good arsenic probe institutions including the University of Maryland.

Richard Bendis, president and main enforcement of BioHealth Innovation Inc., a nonprofit that networks with companies successful Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, said the portion ranks 4th successful the federation for the fig of biohealth companies, aft San Francisco, Boston and New York.

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“You privation to beryllium successful a portion wherever there’s different companies that bash akin work,” which makes it easier to “attract immoderate of the apical scientists, researchers and concern people,” said Bendis. He noted that GlaxoSmithKline plc, the ample British pharmaceutical company, located its North American office successful Maryland partially owed to the proximity to NIH and galore probe institutions with which it tin collaborate. In 2012, Glaxo purchased Human Genome Sciences Inc. of Rockville for $3.6 billion.

In summation to the quality genome concern that Glaxo acquired, respective different companies successful Maryland are doing probe that uses the quality DNA series to make targeted drugs. That probe is important for the improvement of vaccines.

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This nonfiction was provided to The Associated Press by the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

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