Lonza licenses technology to China's Junshi for experimental COVID-19 drug

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lonza Group said on Monday that China’s Junshi Biosciences has licensed the Swiss contract drug manufacturer’s technology to help produce a neutralizing antibody against COVID-19.

Lonza said Junshi’s first neutralizing antibody against the new coronavirus was created using the Swiss company’s gene expression system, called GS Xceed. The antibody, JS016, has entered clinical trials in China, with the first healthy volunteer dosed on June 8 in an early-stage safety study.

Junshi Biosciences is collaborating with Eli Lilly to co-develop the antibody, with Junshi running clinical development in China and Lilly running it elsewhere. The drug is not yet approved by regulators.

Lonza, which helps other companies make medicines either at the Swiss company’s facilities or by licensing out its technology, has gotten dozens of inquiries to partner with customers on medicines against COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

In addition to this licensing deal with Junshi, Lonza has a much larger, separate manufacturing deal with Moderna to make up to one billion doses of its experimental vaccine against the new coronavirus.

“The first clinical trial of neutralizing antibody for COVID-19 in China using our technology is a key milestone for Lonza,” said Lonza, which introduced its GS Xceed expression system in 2012. The system can be used to make biological drugs against a variety of illnesses.

Reporting by John Miller