SK Bioscience will receive $3.6 million (about 4.4 billion won) in research and development funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for development of multiple COVID-19 vaccine antigens using various expression technologies.
Afterwards, SK Bioscience will coordinate discussions with CEPI, which is leading the research and development of the COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, on the use of subsidies.
Despite the urgent need for effective and reasonably priced COVID-19 vaccines due to the worldwide pandemic situation, the best antigen structure needed to develop vaccines with high immunity and safety has yet to be fully identified.
In response, SK Bioscience will cooperate with the U.S. global antigen design research institute and carry out the Corona 19 vaccine process development and nonclinical tests using the Gates Foundation's funding, a company spokesman said on May 18.
In the future, SK Bioscience will apply the three vaccine platform technologies currently in possession to discover a number of candidate materials for the Corona 19 vaccine and find the optimal antigen and derive them as clinical candidates.
By doing so, SK Bioscience will secure a range of vaccine candidates with higher immunity in parallel with the development of its own Corona 19 vaccine, which is supported by the government.
The platform that SK Bioscience uses to develop the Corona 19 vaccine is expected to be more advantageous for permission as it has been applied to many vaccines already developed and proven safe and immune to humans for a long time.
Ahn Jae-yong, CEO of SK Bioscience, said, "We are pleased to work with the Gates Foundation once again following the vaccine for pediatric enteritis and typhoid," adding, "We will develop the Corona 19 vaccine by focusing our capabilities on the mission of contributing to mankind as it has been recognized for its global technological prowess."
Meanwhile, SK Bioscience is a new vaccine company that was spun off from SK Chemical in July 2018 and is selling its own cell culture flu vaccine, shingles vaccine and chickenpox vaccine.
Under the support of the Gates Foundation, it is also carrying out clinical trials of the typhoid vaccine with International Vaccine Institute, while developing pediatric enteritis vaccine with a global organization called Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH).