Dr Devinder Gill, chief executive officer, Hilleman Laboratories, New Delhi.
Q: Please explain to us the research behind preparing the improved version of Hib vaccine? Were the preclinical results on expected lines?
Hib conjugate vaccine plays a vital role in national immunization programs and also forms a main part of the pentavalent vaccine is the costliest component and hence developing countries such as India can benefit from more cost effective formulations.
Hib component vaccine is an important part of pentavalent vaccines and as it contributes maximum to the cost, we attempted to design experiments to test different Hib polysaccharide sizes for developing most potent conjugates. When the length of the polysaccharide was optimized, it dramatically improved immunogenicity in preclinical models, thus making it more powerful and effective. It was also found that the new formulation was 4 to 10 times more potent when compared to the existing licensed vaccines. Hence the results of the preclinical immunogenicity study from the lead candidate developed by Hilleman Labs were on expected lines.
Q: How does the new formulation help in the creation of an affordable quality product in the longer run? What is the way forward?
Capsular polysaccharide conjugates of Hib are important components of several mono-or multivalent vaccines for children. However, the access to needy people is limited due to the relative high cost of the Hib vaccine. This new formulation will be a step towards developing a cost-effective and a more immunogenic vaccine. It is an encouraging breakthrough in bridging the gap and making Hib vaccine accessible and affordable.