Almac Group, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) based in Northern Ireland, has received a $288,000 grant to support clinical research pursuing COVID-19 solutions in sub-Saharan Africa. The funding comes from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and MasterCard.
An Almac spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma that the company had collaborated with the Gates Foundations on previous projects. For this COVID-19 project, the company was brought in by R&D supply chain specialists Brizzey.
According to the spokesperson, the research team will work to discover effective treatments for the virus behind the global pandemic.
“Currently there are no broad-spectrum antivirals or immunotherapies available for the fight against emerging pathogens and no proven treatments approved for use against COVID-19,” they told us. “The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator is a philanthropic initiative designed to coordinate R&D efforts, remove barriers to drug development and scale up treatments to address the pandemic.”
The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator receives funding from an array of public and philanthropic donors. Its mission is to speed the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting efforts to identify, assess, develop and scale up treatments for the virus.
Almac Clinical Services will contribute various clinical trial solutions to the project, from protocol through to patient delivery. Its Almac Sciences arm will offer analytical support, direct from its global headquarters in Craigavon, Northern Ireland.
Additionally, in an effort to accelerate drug development, Almac Clinical Services has received the active drug and is providing over encapsulation services, manufacturing a placebo match, packaging and labelling the supplies to support this blinded clinical trial. Almac Sciences will conduct analytical and stability testing for the investigational drug.
Robert Dunlop, managing director and president for Almac Clinical Services, said the research will take place in an area of the world harder hit than most by the virus.
“Almac’s global capabilities and expertise enables us to play our part and support efforts to find a vaccine and/or treatment for coronavirus,” Dunlop said. “We are delighted to be awarded this grant from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and to be supporting these clinical studies in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Almac Clinical Services will ship trial supplies to the site, logistics and distribution of the drug for safe delivery to patients during the investigation. The COVID-19 study is being headed up by an African principal investigator.
Additionally, Almac is supporting a second open-label clinical study through the distribution of commercial packs to a pharmacy in South Africa.