Celsion taps Chinese CDMO Poly Pharm to produce COVID-19 vaccine candidate

COVID-19 vaccine
Celsion, a clinical stage group focused on DNA-based immunotherapy, has inked a deal with Chinese CDMO Poly Pharm to manufacture clinical batches of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. (Getty/Meyer & Meyer)

Celsion, a clinical stage group focused on DNA-based immunotherapy, has inked a deal with Chinese CDMO Poly Pharm to manufacture clinical batches of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The latest deal is an amended agreement under which Poly Pharm will help with development efforts for Celsion’s vaccine and, if approved, produce commercial batches of the drug. Financial terms of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

“We are glad the DNA-based vaccine can be our second cooperative project,” Madame Fang, Poly Pharm’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Celsion’s DNA vaccine technology platform is promising as it may address global vaccine storage and distribution needs.”

The vaccine is based on Celsion’s TheraPlas technology and its PLACCINE vaccine technology platform. The biotech, which is based in New Jersey, has said it plans to file for an investigational new drug application for the candidate early next year, following further studies.

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Celsion said earlier this month that its platform demonstrated potential in preclinical in vivo studies against COVID-19. Data from the study in mice showed production of antibodies and cytotoxic T-cell response specific to the spike antigen of COVID-19. The antibodies prevented the infection of cultured cells in a viral neutralization assay, the company said.

The platform uses multiple viral antigens to improve vaccine quality while also allowing for cheaper and easier manufacturing.

Additionally, Celsion has said it's looking at improving vaccine stability and storage at temperatures of 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) and above. The company is also working on administering the vaccine intramuscularly through a synthetic delivery system that can yield high levels of viral proteins to produce the desired immune response.