GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) announced Tuesday that Medicago -- a private company owned by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma (OTC:MTZX.F) and Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) -- will use GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant in a COVID-19 vaccine it expects to enter phase 1 trials this month.

Medicago's recombinant coronavirus "Virus-Like Particles" will be combined with Glaxo's pandemic adjuvant system to boost immune response, potentially allowing for less antigen per dose and thus, more available vaccine doses.

A medical professional holds a COVID-19 test tube and testing swab.

Image source: Getty Images.

In pre-clinical studies, Medicago's antigen produced a "high level of neutralizing antibodies" after a single dose when combined with an adjuvant. A phase 1 trial utilizing GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant and an adjuvant from another undisclosed company will begin mid-July. The study will evaluate three vaccine dose levels on a one-dose and two-dose schedule.

If successful, the healthcare companies could make a vaccine from this collaboration available in early 2021. Medicago says it can produce up to 100 million doses by the end of 2021 and up to 1 billion doses per year by the end of 2023, when a new manufacturing facility under construction is complete.

Separately, GlaxoSmithKline's adjuvant system is also being deployed in a COVID-19 program underway at Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) Sanofi expects that vaccine will enter phase 1 trials in September.