Health/Life Sciences

Seattle nonprofit growing COVID-19 vaccine lands $26M donation

Michele B. Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong. (The Giving Pledge Photo)

The Chan Soon-Shiong Family Foundation has donated $26 million to Seattle’s Access to Advanced Health Institute (AAHI), a nonprofit that emerged from the Infectious Disease Research Institute after a recent court-overseen restructure.

Michelle Chan and Patrick Soon-Shiong aim to “erode and eliminate disparities in health care” through their foundation, according to the website of the Giving Pledge, a group of individuals who have pledged to give away the majority of their wealth.

Soon-Shiong is also founder, chief scientific officer and chief medical officer of ImmunityBio, which has a licensing agreement with AAHI and is sponsoring early clinical trials of the institute’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which will soon start in South Africa. He is also chair of AAHI’s board of directors.  

AAHI recently described its COVID-19 vaccine, which consists of a self-replicating RNA bound to a delivery vehicle, in a preprint study. Another recent study showed that a similar formulation can be converted into powder form and stored for up to six months at room temperature, or up to a year in a simple refrigerator — an advantage in resource-poor environments.

AAHI is also involved in advancing a vaccine that is produced in plants that act like tiny bio-factories, recently tested in mice and non-human primates by a research group in Thailand. The plants produce a component of the COVID-19 virus, which is combined with an immune-boosting substance called an adjuvant, formulated by AAHI. The vaccine recently entered phase 1/2 clinical trials in Thailand.

“We are grateful and excited to invest this donation in bringing our immune-enhancing adjuvant and RNA technologies to the clinic and into commercial-scale production,” said Corey Casper, CEO of AAHI, in a statement announcing the donation on Monday. “Our team is intent on innovation to make our technologies affordable and accessible, even in hard-to-reach areas of the world, so that we can change lives for the better in tangible ways.”

AAHI is working to transfer know-how and technology to manufacturing facilities in South Africa and Botswana. AAHI and its adjuvant partner 3M are also working with a manufacturer in Thailand to make the adjuvant for the plant-based vaccine.

As part of the restructure, AAHI strengthened its conflict of interest policies, Casper previously told GeekWire. AAHI’s bylaws require the six other board directors other than Soon-Shiong to have no ties to ImmunityBio or any other company owned or controlled by Soon-Shiong or his family. The other directors may also not be tied to AAHI.

Editor’s note: Story updated to add details on the COVID-19 vaccines and conflict of interest policy.

Related Articles

Trả lời

Email của bạn sẽ không được hiển thị công khai. Các trường bắt buộc được đánh dấu *