[Photo provided by SK Bioscience Co.]
SK Bioscience Co. said on Wednesday that it has been picked as a preferred negotiator for a state-led project to develop subunit (antigen containing part of the virus) vaccine candidate materials against COVID-19.
The South Korean company, founded as a spinoff from SK Chemicals Co. in July 2018, is a dedicated vaccine company. It has a track record of developing the country’s first trivalent cell-culture influenza vaccine SKYCellflu, the world’s first quadrivalent cell-culture flu vaccine SKYCellflu Quadrivalent, the world’s second herpes zoster vaccine Sky Zoster, and Korea’s second varicella vaccine SKY Varicella.
The COVID-19 vaccine project was launched by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) in hopes to contain the virus spread in collaboration with the private sector amid mounting confirmed cases and death tolls in Korea and overseas.
The KCDC invited domestic universities, labs and companies to a bid for the project and finally selected SK Bioscience, which has accumulated know-how related to regulatory approval, clinical trial, manufacturing and production of a vaccine, SK Bioscience said.
The KCDC and SK Bioscience will cooperate in identifying antigen parts and developing subunit vaccine candidate materials based on genetic information analyzed in Korea and overseas.
SK Bioscience will conduct R&D activities such as antigen screening and gene synthesis needed to produce COVID-19 subunit vaccine candidate materials, production of various candidate materials, development of immunogenicity assessment and analysis methods, and evaluation of candidate materials in animals.
Cheered by the news, shares of SK Chemicals, the parent company of SK Bioscience, jumped 5.4 percent, or 3,300 won, to 64,300 won on Wednesday. They were trading 6.22 percent, or 4,000 won, higher at 68,200 won in the morning trading on Thursday.
Last month SK Bioscience launched its own R&D program to secure a vaccine manufacturing technology platform to quickly respond to the spread of new infectious diseases.
The company has a system to enable mass production of vaccines upon development at its Andong L-house plant.
By Kim Si-gyun and Minu Kim
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