Local company working on coronavirus vaccine, antibody test and therapy

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SAN DIEGO – As the race to find a vaccine for the coronavirus ramps up, so does the competition. San Diego based Sorrento Therapeutics is working to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus as well as antibody therapy and testing.

“There’s not many companies in the world that can do what we’re doing, put them all together,” said Chairman and CEO of Sorrento Therapeutics, Henry Ji.

From concept, to development, to the vial, Ji says the company plans to be involved every step of the way. Additionally, he says the company’s access to labs and testing abilities means results will come expeditiously.

“I love the spirit of the employees,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer who stopped in for a visit Wednesday.

“They are working literally 24/7 and they are proud of their work. They know the work they are doing in this building is going to save lives. So, it is my honor, my privilege to come in and say great job.”

Ji says they’re currently working on a handful of vaccines and due to relaxed FDA regulations, having one of them ready for use by the end of the year, is within the realm of possibility.

They are also working on creating a test to detect antibodies, an indicator someone may have already been exposed to the coronavirus and recovered.

Equally important is antibody therapies. Ji said they are working on the therapeutic and neutralizing variety. The neutralizing version could be especially helpful for people in the health care industry.

“Every two weeks you inject the antibody,” Ji explains. “Nurses, doctors, you want to neutralize the antibody and inject them before they enter the hospital so they are protected from the virus.”

Sorrento Therapeutics isn’t the first company to enter the race for therapies and vaccines. Dozens of others around the world have also chased the goal. Ji says even if others beat them to the finish line, the target may end up shifting if the virus mutates.

“The guys that are doing it first may get it wrong, and we’re trying to get it right.”

The company says they are also waiting on FDA approval for something that could serve as a blocker for lung inflammation to people who already have coronavirus and patients in hospitals on ventilators.

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