GC Pharma announced on March 19 that it has begun to develop a vaccine and a treatment for the COVID-19 virus with support from the Korea Center for Disease Control.
The company submitted a proposal for new drug development to the center in cooperation with the Mok-Am Life Science Research Institute. It aims to develop a candidate material for a synthetic antigen-based COVID-19 subunit vaccine and discover a candidate material for a monoclonal antibody for the treatment of the virus.
Vaccine development is based on a sub-unit method. GC Pharma is planning to discover candidate materials from proteins expressed on the surface of the coronavirus and to mass-produce them using genetic recombination technology. Unlike an attenuated vaccine that utilizes viruses or bacteria, a subunit vaccine uses proteins to ensure safety. In order to increase the effectiveness of the vaccine, GC Pharma will use an adjuvant.
GC Pharma has accumulated R&D capabilities through the development of various vaccines, such as an influenza vaccine, a chickenpox vaccine, and a hepatitis B vaccine. The accumulated R&D capabilities are expected to be applied to the development of a novel coronavirus vaccine.
The pharmaceutical company will discover a candidate material for a treatment for the virus by taking out B cells (cells that make antibodies) from the blood of a person carrying the virus. Subsequently, it will start developing a monoclonal antibody treatment using recombinant technology.
"We are planning to develop effective vaccines and treatments by utilizing our research and development capabilities accumulated through the development of various vaccines and genetic recombination treatments," said Yoo Hyun-ah, head of the GC Pharma Research Institute.