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Coronavirus

Japan's AGC joins project to develop coronavirus DNA vaccine

Collaboration led by biotech venture hopes to have trials out this summer

Seattle-based AGC Biologics will supply a component for the vaccine underdevelopment. (Photo provided by AGC Biologics)

TOKYO -- Japanese chemical and materials maker AGC said Thursday it has teamed up with an Osaka University-affiliated biotechnology company to help produce a coronavirus vaccine that offers a great mass-manufacturing advantage.

The DNA vaccine project is a collaboration between biotech venture AnGes and Takara Bio, which will handle most of the production work.

Seattle-based AGC Biologics, a subsidiary of AGC, will supply an intermediate material. The vaccine is expected to enter clinical trials as early as this summer.

Takara Bio looks to manufacture about 200,000 doses in a year. Unlike standard vaccines, which use live or inactivated pathogens to generate an immune response, DNA vaccines use a genetic sequence that causes cells within the body to produce an antigen for the virus -- the substance that the immune system learns to recognize.

This lets drugmakers skip the time-consuming step of cultivating the virus in eggs or animals, slashing the time needed for production to six months from a year or more.

AGC Biologics was established in 2018, integrating AGC's biotechnology operations with Germany's Biomeva and U.S.-based CMC Biologics, which AGC acquired in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

The contract developer and manufacturer operates production facilities in Japan, the U.S. and Europe.AGC has also been tapped by a Danish company to help develop another coronavirus vaccine candidate.

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