In the hunt for a novel coronavirus vaccine, British drugmaker AstraZeneca has raced to the front of the pack with promising interim data and a slew of proposed supply deals. One of its earliest partners in the effort, New Jersey CDMO Catalent, is now adding to its responsibilities as the vaccine nears regulatory scrutiny.
AstraZeneca and Catalent have fleshed out their manufacturing deal for the University of Oxford's adenovirus-based COVID-19 vaccine to include drug substance production, including viral vectors, at the CDMO's gene therapy facility in Harmans, Maryland, the partners said Monday.
Catalent will start production there in the third quarter, building on its previous pact with AstraZeneca for fill-finish and packaging duties at its Anagni, Italy, site.The Harmans facility is in the vicinity of the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport—nearby air transport is common among commercial gene therapy manufacturing sites—and includes 20,000 square feet of commercial and clinical capacity. The facility is one of five gene therapy sites Catalent operates in Maryland and holds multiple CGMP manufacturing suites, including fill-finish, testing, warehousing and supply chain capabilities.
Catalent's work will include production of viral vectors for a genetically modified form of the adenovirus used in Oxford's shot, dubbed AZD1222. The modified virus, known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, aims to induce a lasting immune response to spike proteins added to the virus's surface.
On AstraZeneca's side, the newest deal comes as the drugmaker looks to boost production and distribution of the Oxford vaccine, which has emerged as a front-runner in the global pursuit for an effective COVID-19 shot.