Lonza to commission Houston suite to supply Altimmune's COVID-19 vaccine candidate

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FILE PHOTO: Logo of Swiss contract drug maker Lonza is seen in Basel

ZURICH (Reuters) - Lonza will commission a dedicated suite at its Houston viral vectors factory for clinical and commercial supply of U.S.-based Altimmune's COVID-19 vaccine candidate, the Swiss contract drug manufacturer said on Friday.

Altimmune is developing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be administered via nasal spray, and has begun Phase 1 safety studies in humans, with expected data to come in the second quarter.

Lonza's 300,000-square-foot cell and gene therapy factory, opened in 2018, will provide manufacturing space for Altimmune's AdCOVID vaccine, which uses an adenovirus vector to help stimulate an immune response. The deal follows Lonza's larger agreement with Moderna to produce drug substances for its mRNA vaccine in the United States and Switzerland.

"Manufacturing capacity for COVID-19 vaccines has been severely constrained, and this limitation has presented considerable challenges for vaccine developers," said Vyjayanthi Krishnan, who heads Altimmune's product development. "By expanding our Lonza collaboration and commissioning our own dedicated manufacturing suite, we are building extra capacity and redundancy into our manufacturing."

The Lonza-Altimmune partnership was announced last November.

In animal experiments, Altimmune has said its intranasal COVID-19 vaccine induced immune responses in mice, including disease fighting T-cells and neutralizing antibodies.

(Reporting by John Miller, editing by John Revill)