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Sun Pharma, genetic research centre to develop dengue vaccine

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

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UNIDO-promoted ICGEB will give Sun the right to commercialise drug globally

Drug major Sun Pharma on Wednesday announced a new collaboration with International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for developing the “first Made in India designer” dengue vaccine that targets all four serotypes.

As per the agreement, ICGEB, a UNIDO-promoted non-profit that is now autonomous, will grant Sun Pharma exclusive rights and licence to develop and commercialise this vaccine globally. In return, ICGEB will receive pre-defined royalty and milestone payments.

“The game-changer vaccine will be safe, effective and affordable. It will use a single component to target all four serotypes of the virus,” said Navin Khanna of ICGEB, whose team started developing the vaccine in 2005.

Khanna said ICGEB had conducted pre-clinical studies over the past seven years and developed the existing knowhow and patents for this vaccine, which is made in yeast and claims fewer side-effects, as it creates only “good antibodies”.

“ICGEB has developed a tailored recombinant virus-like particle based tetravalent dengue vaccine... This is the second collaboration between Sun Pharma and ICGEB focussing on dengue,” Sun Pharma said, adding that the first one was on developing a botanical drug called CIPA for treatment of dengue.

When asked about the timeframe for developing the vaccine, Kirti Ganorkar, Executive Vice-President, Global Business Development, Sun Pharma, said: “It is difficult to say, but recombinant vaccines take a shorter time. So, it will be as soon as possible.”

Incidentally, French firm Sanofi’s dengue vaccine Dengvaxia took about 20 years to be developed and has got authorisation in 11 countries, barring India.

Khanna said this ‘game-changer’ vaccine, which is now moving to a clinical development stage with Sun Pharma, will focus on all the target population, whether previously affected or non-affected, including paediatric, adults and traveller population.

Advisory group

Sun Pharma said it would set up a Dengue Advisory Group to provide technical and regulatory support to the vaccine development programme and would explore global commercialisation opportunities across India, emerging markets, Western Europe, Japan and the US.

Noting that dengue was not well documented in India with only “wild” estimates of its epidemiology, Soumya Swaminathan, DG, Indian Council of Medical Research, called for an effective programme for surveillance to map the virus and its spread.

As per the World Health Organisation estimates, 390 million people globally are affected by dengue annually, of which, 20-30 million are in India.

Published on October 19, 2016

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