CSL works with rivals on COVID-19 treatment from recovered patients’ blood

Australian listed biotechnology giant CSL will work with some of its biggest rivals in the blood plasma business to try to develop a potential treatment for patients suffering complications from COVID-19.
CSL – which briefly took over from Commonwealth Bank as the ASX’s largest company by market value earlier this year – said on Monday it would form an “alliance” with other blood therapy manufacturers to collect plasma from people who have contracted and then fully recovered from COVID-19.
People who have recovered from the coronavirus will have antibodies in their blood that can fight the virus, the alliance said in a statement on Friday. Collected plasma will be sent to manufacturing facilities to be processed, which will include “virus inactivation” and removal, and then purified into a “hyperimmune” product the companies believe could treat infected patients.
The alliance will include CSL’s plasma division, CSL Behring; Japanese group Takeda Pharmaceutical; German company Biotest; British group BPL; France’s LFB; and Swiss manufacturer Octapharma.
Bill Mezzanotte, CSL Behring’s executive vice president and head of research and development, said the companies would pool resources and work with governments and academics as a single body, which will make activities such as clinical trials more efficient.
“This effort aims to accelerate a reliable, scalable and sustainable option for caregivers to treat patients suffering from the impact of COVID-19,” he said.
Julie Kim, president of Takeda’s plasma business unit, said that collaboration between the companies and pooling resources would bring a potential treatment to market quicker and also increase the potential supply.
Work on a COVID-19 therapy is already underway at each of the companies, and experts from the alliance will start work across plasma collection, clinical trials and development and manufacturing, they said in a statement.
The Melbourne-headquartered CSL is one of the largest biotechnology companies in the world and joined the fight against COVID-19 in February when it offered its expertise and patented technology from its flu vaccine business, Seqirus, to the University of Queensland, which is trying to develop a vaccine for the virus.
CSL has its Chinese major manufacturing facility and about 600 staff in Hubei Province, which was the epicentre of the pandemic.
As of Monday afternoon, the global death toll from coronavirus was just over 69,500, according to the Johns Hopkins University, which is keeping a tally on the pandemic. Almost 1.3 million cases of infection have been identified, while more than 259,000 people have recovered, the university said.

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