RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Drug giant GSK is partnering with San Francisco-based biotech Vir Biotechnology to launch an effort to develop treatments for coronavirusus (including COVID-19). The effort will include the use of artificial intelligence and gene editing technology known as CRISPR.

The deal includes a $250 million purchase of Vir stock by GSK.

GSK earlier announced a deal with a Chinese firm to research possible remedies to the coronavirus.

Vir has developed a proprietary antibody platform that it says can “accelerate existing and identify new anti-viral antibodies that could be used as therapeutic or preventative options to help address the current COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks.”

GSK will contribute its genomics expertise. They will jointly combine their efforts in CRISPR and AI  to identify anti-coronavirus compounds.

“Vir’s unique antibody platform has precedented success in identifying and developing antibodies as treatments for multiple pathogens, and it is highly complementary with our R&D approach to focus on the science of immunology,” said Dr. Hal Barron, Chief Scientific Officer and President R&Dat GSK. “I am very excited that the talent and passion of our two companies will come together to develop solutions for multiple diseases, including the very promising antibody candidates targeting COVID-19.”

GSK employs several thousand people across the Triangle region, including a manufacturing plant in Durham.

GSK partners with China-based biotech in search for coronavirus vaccine