India's biggest drug maker Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has tied up with Delhi-based International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) to develop a dengue vaccine that targets all four types of dengue viruses that cause disease in humans. ICGEB has already conducted pre-clinical studies over the past seven years and developed the knowhow for a recombinant virus-like-particle (VLP)-based tetravalent dengue vaccine candidate. Sun will be responsible for taking the research forward into pre-clinical and clinical trial stages up to its commercialisation. This will be the first foray of Sun into the vaccine segment. "Our new collaboration with ICGEB for developing an affordable dengue vaccine is part of our broader commitment for developing new and improved vaccines and drugs against viruses that are of significant health importance to India and rest of the world. Our decision to partner with ICGEB on dengue vaccine programme followed extensive due diligence and expert consultations on existing dengue vaccine programmes globally." Kirti Ganorkar, Executive VP & Head, Global Business Development, Sun Pharma, said. ICGEB will be entitled for milestone payments at every stage of vaccine development. This is the second collaboration between Sun Pharma and ICGEB focusing on dengue. The first one announced in May 2016 was related to the development of a botanical drug for treatment of dengue. The current collaboration is focused on developing a novel, safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of dengue.
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Initial findings of ICGEB's dengue vaccine indicate that the candidate induces serotype-specific non-cross-reactive and strongly neutralizing antibodies without disease enhancing concerns, Sun stated.
"Despite recent approval of a dengue vaccine and several candidates being at advance stage of clinical trials, the development of a safe, affordable and efficacious dengue vaccine still faces major challenges. I am pleased that the Dengue Vaccine Development programme led by Dr Navin Khanna at ICGEB is now proceeding to clinical development phase with Sun Pharma. The initial support from DBT and subsequent funding from Wellcome Trust has enabled ICGEB to bring this vaccine candidate at the stage it is today. We acknowledge the continued support of DBT and Wellcome Trust for these efforts at ICGEB. Our pre-clinical data is very encouraging and this could be an ideal dengue vaccine candidate for all target populations." Dr Salunke, Director - ICGEB, said.
According to the agreement signed today, Sun Pharma will fund and support further development of the vaccine candidate and existing ICGEB Know-How and Patents. ICGEB will grant Sun Pharma exclusive rights and licenses for development and commercialisation of this vaccine globally. ICGEB will receive pre-defined royalty & milestone payments. A joint development committee, comprising members of both the organisations, will be established to provide oversight to the dengue vaccine development program. According to the agreement signed, ICGEB shall disclose and make available to Sun Pharma all such existing ICGEB Know-How as well as effective completion of technology transfer by ICGEB to Sun Pharma within stipulated timeframe.