Hester Biosciences, IIT-Guwahati collaborate to develop Covid-19 vaccine

Our Bureau Ahmedabad | Updated on April 29, 2020 Published on April 29, 2020

Animal studies likely to start by year-end; Hester shares zoom 20%

Animal healthcare major, Hester Biosciences Ltd, has announced its collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

This move fuelled the company’s share price, which rose 20 per cent to ₹1,366.90 in early trade on the BSE.

In an announcement on the BSE, Hester Biosciences informed that the agreement between the two parties was signed on April 15 and the vaccine will be based on the recombinant avian paramyxovirus vector platform. The role of the Institute is to produce the recombinant vaccine candidate.

IIT Guwahati and Hester Biosciences expect the vaccine to be ready by the end of this year and for animal studies to start. The work is currently in its early stage of development.

Preventive measure

Rajiv Gandhi, CEO and MD, Hester Biosciences, said, “In the current pandemic situation of Covid-19, the world is looking at developing preventive and curative measures to safeguard mankind. IIT-G & Hester have collaborated to develop and manufacture a recombinant vaccine against Covid-19 disease as a preventive measure. Hester’s involvement would be from master seed development up to release of the commercial vaccine.”

The recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 will be used to express the immunogenic protein of SARS-CoV-2. This could be used as a vaccine candidate for further study.

The avian paramyxovirus-1 has been explored as a vaccine vector for various animals and human pathogens. It has been used to express the immunogenic protein of human pathogens such as HIV, avian influenza virus, human parainfluenza virus, SARS-CoV.

Similarly, it has also been explored as a vaccine vector for animal pathogens such as infectious bursal disease virus, infectious laryngotracheitis virus, bovine herpes virus, Nipah virus, etc.

The team at IIT Guwahati is headed by Dr Sachin Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, the statement said. The team has generated the recombinant avian paramyxovirus-1 based vaccine platform for Classical Swine Fever and Japanese encephalitis.

Efficacy of the vaccine

Speaking about the vaccine for Covid-19, Dr Sachin Kumar said, “It is too early to comment on the efficacy and immunogenicity of the vaccine, however, we will be able to reveal more details about this vaccine after the results of animal studies are obtained.”

Hester, which has 23 years of experience in vaccine manufacturing on the veterinary side, uses fermentation, tissue culture, continuous cell line and chick embryo origin methods for manufacturing vaccines.

Hester is also currently working towards developing the next generation of recombinant poultry vaccines. “Being in veterinary vaccine manufacturing, as well as working towards developing recombinant vaccines, Hester has a fairly good understanding and the capability to get into human vaccines, specifically into a vaccine against the Covid-19 disease,” Gandhi added.

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Published on April 29, 2020
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