LakePharma announces it will develop, produce COVID vaccine at South Street facility

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Hopkinton might end up playing a key role in helping to end the COVID-19 pandemic, as the biotech company LakePharma announced that it will work to develop and produce a vaccine at its facility on South Street.

LakePharma revealed Monday that it has established a “strategic partnership” with Akston Biosciences, which “develops new classes of biologic therapeutics.”

According to the announcement, “LakePharma will manufacture commercial quantities of Akston’s adjuvated COVID-19 vaccine candidate (AKS-452), which is scheduled to begin Phase 1/2 clinical testing later this month. AKS-452 is the most advanced COVID-19-specific Fc fusion protein vaccine in commercial development and is engineered to induce or boost a Th1/Th2 mixed immune response in patients against the Receptor Binding Domain (RBD) of the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus spike protein. The inherent nature of this construct provides a unique combination of benefits compared to nucleic acid, viral-vectored, and inactivated virus vaccines.”

LakePharma stated that the AKS-452 vaccine does not need to be kept frozen or even refrigerated, unlike the vaccines currently being used, making the distribution process easier and more widely available.

“LakePharma started working on various COVID-19 activities in February 2020 and was among the first companies to provide recombinantly produced SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins for diagnostic and therapeutic development,” stated LakePharma president and CEO Hua Tu, Ph.D. “We bring three critical components to this partnership: our experience in making SARS-CoV-2 proteins, our stable CHO-GSN technology, and most importantly, the use of the cGMP manufacturing suite in our Hopkinton, MA facility. We have worked with Akston and its fusion protein therapeutics since 2015, and this experience means we can transition AKS-452 into large-scale production very rapidly.”

California-based LakePharma opened its Hopkinton facility in 2018.

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