GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Biological E, a leading Indian vaccines company, have announced an agreement to form a 50- 50 joint venture (JV) for the early stage research and development of a six-in-one combination paediatric vaccine to help protect children in India and other developing countries from polio and other infectious diseases. The partnership reinforces the commitment of both companies to support the World Health Organisation's (WHO) global polio eradication programme.
Despite a number of collaborations between Indian companies and multinationals in drug discovery research, this would be one of the first in the vaccines space in recent times.Biological E was in the news recently for being the first Indian company to launch an indigenously developed Japanese Encephalitis vaccine last year.
If approved, the vaccine, which would combine GSK's injectable polio vaccine (IPV) and Biological E's pentavalent vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (whole cell pertussis), hepatitis B, and Haemophilus influenzae type b, could be the first of its kind. The vaccine would enable fewer injections for children thereby improving compliance in immunisation schedules. The fully liquid formulation of the vaccine also means it would be ready to use with no additional ingredients or materials required, freeing up space at local storage facilities.
The JV will bear the development costs for the candidate vaccine, which is expected to enter phase 1 development in the next two years. A very small initial cash investment will be made by both companies to cover start-up costs for the JV and subsequent development costs will be split equally.
Christophe Weber, President of GSK Vaccines said, "We are delighted to be working with Biological E, an established company in the global vaccine market. This agreement is fully aligned to GSK's vision of providing high quality vaccines to those in need and by leveraging Biological E's strengths, this particular vaccine has the potential to play a significant role in the fight against polio."