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Coronavirus, Matteo Liguori (IRBM Managing Director): “We are working to manufacture a vaccine” Agenzia DIRE

”ENGLISH

MICHELA COLUZZI:

IRBM is the only Italian company working on the Coronavirus vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford. How is this vaccine prepared?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

This vaccine is being prepared through a collaboration between ourselves here at IRBM and our Advent vaccines division, the company is called Advent, and the Jenner Institute in Oxford. The Jenner Institute in Oxford is working on and has finalized the selection of a protein known as “spike”, which will subsequently be inserted into a vector, an adenovirus, which is a vector that will carry this spike protein into the human body, thus making it immune to possible adenovirus infection. This protein is carried within the body by means of a vector that is recognized by the human body and which has also been used previously to produce other vaccines, such as for Ebola.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

How long will it take to produce this vaccine? Basically what steps have to be taken in order for it to reach the market?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

When the Coronavirus emergency first emerged there were press releases from some companies giving scientifically unsustainable timescales. For this reason, the WHO intervened several weeks ago and gave reference timescales of 18 months for the production of a vaccine, from the time it is first created to when it reaches the market. However, it is also true that in the case of epidemics, or in extraordinary cases, we have witnessed unimaginable fast-tracking, precisely to enable people to improve treatments and protection against potential contagion from infectious diseases.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

So would you be able to give us a forecast?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

In our case, the forecast will depend on the spread of the Coronavirus. It is also true though that we are working around the clock in order to bring this vaccine to market as soon as possible.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

June?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

Well, between now and June we will be producing the doses we have indicated or, to be more precise, 1000 doses of vaccine between now and the summer. Between now and the summer we will be producing the 1000 doses of vaccine, which will then have to be tested according to the phases we are familiar with, so the ordinary ones, firstly animal testing, then human testing, in clinical phases 1, 2 and 3 according to the standards. If something should change because the regulatory authorities deem it more appropriate to change the standard process, the timescales could be even shorter.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

IRBM previously produced the Ebola vaccine. How do you ensure you’re always at the forefront of responding to these endemic emergencies? So what I’m asking is, are you actually a center of excellence in this field?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

Well, we’re at the forefront because we work on subjects that are particularly complex and, as we say in this sector: the world is a small village. So we are known and recognized as being people who work professionally, efficiently and seriously. Furthermore, the company continues to invest in a very high level of professionalism, in terms of both research and other supporting activities, and we are a company that brings people together from all over the world to work here. It is certainly a matter of pride and excellence because we’re developing this vaccine together with a partner that is internationally recognized as the point of reference in the development of vaccines, particularly for these types of epidemics.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

Are there also other international companies working on the production of a Coronavirus vaccine? Might it be possible for various vaccines to be approved for use on the market?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

Undoubtedly. There’s no doubt that it won’t necessarily be one vaccine that is approved; what is eventually marketed will be one or more vaccines that will be effective in protecting the population from the spread of this epidemic.

MICHELA COLUZZI:

Does IRBM only work on vaccines or, as you said, by acting as a catalyst for so many other highly skilled professions, will it also work on other things? Can you tell us about that?

MATTEO LIGUORI:

Through the company Advent, which is the vaccines division, IRBM works exclusively on vaccines, but the IRBM group operates in various areas of research, particularly in the development of new drugs. We also do this in collaboration with Italian organizations such as the Italian National Research Council and the National Institute of Health. We have been working with them for years in developing innovative research, in particular by each of us making available our own skills in the field of new drug development.

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