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Vir Biotech Jumps on New Drug Development Deal With GSK

Under the agreement, Vir will work with GlaxoSmithKline on therapies for respiratory viruses, widening from their Covid cooperation.
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Shares of Vir Biotechnology  (VIR) - Get Vir Biotechnology Inc. Report, which focuses on infectious disease drugs, jumped Wednesday after it announced an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GSK plc American Depositary Shares (Each representing two) Report to work on therapies for respiratory viruses, widening from their Covid cooperation.

The accord “expands their existing collaboration to include the research and development of new therapies for influenza and other respiratory viruses,” the companies announced in a statement.

As part of the deal, GSK will make an upfront payment of $225 million to Vir and increase its equity investment in the company by $120 million. 

Vir recently traded at $73.76, up 9.5%, and has soared 152% over the past three months through Tuesday amid enthusiasm over its Covid treatment. Glaxo traded at $35.74, up 0.3%.

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“GSK has been a valuable strategic partner and scientific collaborator in the fight against Covid-19,” Vir Chief Executive George Scangos said in a statement. “As part of our functional genomics collaboration directed at Covid-19, we have turned up multiple targets that have the potential to treat influenza and other respiratory viruses, and it makes sense to extend the scope of our collaboration to include these new targets.”

Scangos added that “this expanded collaboration supports the rapid advancement of multiple promising investigational compounds in our pipeline, increasing the likelihood that these potential life-saving treatments will reach patients sooner, and will advance our shared goal of developing single drugs that can address multiple bugs.”

The expanded collaboration provides GSK exclusive rights to collaborate with Vir on the development of monoclonal antibodies (MAb) for the prevention or treatment of influenza.

That includes VIR-2482, an intramuscularly administered investigational MAb designed as a universal prophylactic for influenza A that has completed a Phase 1 trial, and next-generation antibodies for the prevention or treatment of influenza during a three-year research period.