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March 17, 2020

Montgomery Co. life science companies work together on COVID-19 vaccine

Credit: WDVM, Randi Bass

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — A global life sciences company headquartered in Montgomery County is making headway when it comes to manufacturing products to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

With local facilities in Gaithersburg, D.C., and Baltimore, Emergent BioSolutions has started the development of products to prevent and treat coronavirus.

“We are actively funding the advancement of two different technologies,” said Sean Kirk, Executive Vice President of Manufacturing and Technical Operations at Emergent.

In a remote briefing with 6th District Congressman David Trone on Tuesday morning, executives from Emergent broke down the biology behind manufacturing therapeutic medications.

“We’ll begin collecting plasma from citizens who have navigated their way through the infection, so they have antibodies in their blood. We can purify those antibodies to create a treatment for folks who are actively sick,” Kirk explained.

They’re also planning to collect and purify antibodies from horses to create a potential treatment.

Developing these products takes time, and they’re partnering with Maryland-based vaccine developer Novavax to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market.

“The team is in active execution of that project, they have a target of June for their clinical trial,” said Senior Vice President and head of Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization Syed T. Husain.

Congressman Trone says he hopes to help the companies through the process as much as he can.

“We’ve got to get all hands on deck, we’re all part of one team and that’s the American people’s health,” he said.