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Coronavirus: Animal healthcare manufacturer joins hands with IIT to develop vaccine

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Ahmedabad-based Hester Biosciences, a leading animal healthcare and second largest poultry vaccine manufacturer in India, has joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.  Hester becomes the 8th Indian company to attempt a Covid-19 vaccine  after Serum Institute, Zydus Cadila, Bharat Biotech, Indian Immunologicals, Biological E, CCMB Hyderabad and IISc Bangalore with Mynvax, Bangalore.

The vaccine will be based on recombinant avian paramyxovirus based vector platform, which has been used in the past as a vaccine vector for various animals and human pathogens such as HIV, avian influenza virus, human parainfluenza virus, SARS-CoV and many other infectious diseases like Nipah. The partners are hoping to have a vaccine candidate ready for animal trials by end of the year and enter human trials during next year, said Rajiv Gandhi, CEO and MD, Hester Biosciences.

"While our involvement would be from master seed development up to release of the commercial vaccine, the IIT team headed by Dr. Sachin Kumar, Associate Professor, Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, is to produce the recombinant vaccine candidate. It is early to fix the timelines," said Rajiv Gandhi. This will be the first initiative from Hester to develop a human vaccine.

Being in veterinary vaccine manufacturing, as well as working towards developing recombinant vaccines, Hester has a fairly good understanding and the capability to get into human vaccines, he said.

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