MichBio Webinar Addresses COVID-19 Treatments, Members Work to Develop Vaccines in One Year

MichBio, a trade association in Ann Arbor that represents Michigan’s biosciences industry, conducted a webinar on Tuesday discussing the readiness to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and speed up the development of vaccines.
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MichBio hosted a webinar discussing possible COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. // Stock photo

MichBio, a trade association in Ann Arbor that represents Michigan’s biosciences industry, conducted a webinar on Tuesday discussing the readiness to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and speed up the development of vaccines.

The webinar discussed biodefense readiness, emerging treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, and the path to approval and mass production of therapeutic, diagnostic, and vaccine products.

Dr. Rick Bright, deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response and director of biomedical advanced research and development authority for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussed the accelerated timeline in the development of vaccines in the case of an emergency such as the ongoing pandemic.

To identify and understand a new pathogen, create and validate treatments for it, and produce and distribute those treatments at the scale required to be effective in those most in need is usually a 10-to-20-year process. Responding organizations have been asked to complete the process in one year or less.

“That 10-to-20-fold reduction in timeline requires a coordinated response at all levels of the industry, engagement of organizations that would not typically respond to such threats, and ground-breaking innovation at every step in the process,” says Stephen Rapundalo, president and CEO of MichBio.

Kate Broderick, senior vice president of research and development pharmaceuticals and nCoV project lead for Inovio Pharmaceuticals, says her team is looking into a vaccine based on experience combatting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

Dr. Rick Nettles, vice president of U.S. medical affairs for Janssen Infectious Diseases of Johnson and Johnson, is using the company’s background in vaccine creation for Zika and Ebola, while Joshua Trotta, senior director of genetic sciences of Thermo Fisher Scientific, is using diagnostic tests to learn more about the COVID-19 virus to aid in vaccine development and other treatment options.

MichBio represents sectors including agri-biotech, food and nutrition, bio-based technologies and renewable chemicals, industrial and environmental biotech, medical devices and technologies, pharmaceuticals and consumer health care, diagnostics and research products, testing and research services, and clinical research. Members include bioscience companies, academic and research institutions, bioscience service providers, and related organizations.

MichBio members are working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. To date, the authority has reviewed more than 1,800 therapeutic, diagnostic, or vaccine submissions.

The authority is working to accelerate development through partnerships and financial support of the most promising submissions. That number continues to grow as organizations throughout the nation continue to research.

For a free viewing of the webinar, register here.

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