Lansing company looking to help develop coronavirus vaccine

 Emergent Biosolutions makes an anthrax vaccine in Lansing.
Emergent Biosolutions makes an anthrax vaccine in Lansing. (WILX)
Published: Mar. 9, 2020 at 5:40 PM EDT
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There is not a vaccine for the coronavirus, because this is the first time people are getting sick from this strain.

One company that started right here in Lansing is looking to change that.

Emergent BioSolutions is one of many companies wanting to help vaccinate Americans from the coronavirus.

"For 21 years our mission has been to protect and enhance life. We do that by partnering with the U.S. government and allied nations. Our focus has been on public health threats and emerging infectious diseases," said Dino Muzzin, Emergent BioSolutions Senior Vice President of Manufacturing.

In 1998, the company created an anthrax vaccine at its Lansing facility, where it is still made today.

Muzzin said the company sent a letter to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, explaining why it should be chosen to help work on a coronavirus vaccine.

"We will partner with other companies and we will advance them through marketing of a product. So we would actually provide the people, the process, the systems, infrastructure to launch their product," said Muzzin.

Partnerships could include companies like Moderna.

Moderna sent samples of a possible vaccine to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

A clinical trial is expected to begin by the end of April.

"Our vast experience working with the U.S. government, with our focus on vaccine development and product development, we are well situated to work with the U.S. Government," Muzzin said.

Researchers in Chicago are finding similarities between this strain of coronavirus and the one that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003.

"All those drugs that were developed for SARS could potentially be redeployed, re-understood and redeveloped against this new virus," said Karla Satchel, Northwestern University Medicine Researcher.

Muzzin said it normally could take 10 to 15 years do develop a vaccine, however, he expects one sooner for the coronavirus.

"Because this is so serious, we would expect a fast track release," he said.

As of right now, the FDA has not approved any vaccine for the coronavirus.

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