A vaccine to treat dengue fever, the mosquito-borne disease, is the end goal of two companies who have signed an agreement to produce and commercialize a lead candidate in the fight against the disease.
Emergex Vaccines Holding Limited, a clinical-stage biotech company, recently announced that it has agreed a collaboration with the Molecular Biology Institute of Paraná (IBMP) in Brazil.
IBMP is a commercial organization with close links to Fiocruz, the most important national institution for research and production of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines linked to the Ministry of Health in Brazil. It has a commercial track record in the healthcare space in the development, manufacturing, regulatory approval and commercialization of medical diagnostics and medicines in Brazil.
The agreement, once fully executed, will involve a shared clinical development phase as well as allowing IBMP exclusive rights for the commercialization of the vaccine candidates in Brazil. In addition, clinical stage manufacturing of the vaccines will be conducted by Emergex with a transition to commercial scale manufacturing being conducted in the region by IBMP. A joint steering committee with representatives from both Emergex and IBMP will oversee the collaboration and commercialization of the vaccines in Brazil.
Robin Cohen, chief commercial officer at Emergex, said: “This is an important step as we look ahead and plan for the development of our lead vaccine candidates. Dengue is a serious endemic disease in Brazil and we are delighted to be bringing forward our vaccine technology that has the potential to better protect the health for millions of people in the region. Partnering with IBMP makes strategic sense for Emergex as it has the local contacts and expertise to successfully develop and commercialize our vaccines in Brazil. We look forward to completing the formal agreement in due course.”
Dengue fever can be painful and debilitating and is caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses. These viruses are related to the viruses that cause West Nile infection and yellow fever.
An estimated 400 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness.
The collaboration also involves Emergex and IBMP conducting pre-clinical testing and clinical development of Chikungunya vaccine candidate.
The agreement initially focuses on Emergex’s dengue vaccine candidate and also includes the shared development and commercialization of COVID-19 and Chikungunya vaccine candidates. Emergex’s Dengue and COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently in phase 1 clinical trials in Switzerland with top line results for dengue expected soon and top line results for COVID-19 expected later this year.
The Chikungunya vaccine candidate is being developed with support from a UK Aid grant, (Official Development Assistance). This was awarded to Emergex following a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) UK Vaccine Network (UKVN). It was delivered through Innovate UK, to develop vaccines for diseases with epidemic potential in low- and middle-income countries.
Further development of the Chikungunya vaccine candidate in Brazil would be jointly conducted by Emergex and IBMP with costs shared equally between both parties and with IBMP having the option for exclusive commercial rights for the Chikungunya vaccine in Brazil.
Emergex said the previous collaboration with a related Brazilian institution resulted in an excellent working relationship and valuable pre-clinical data for Emergex’s CD8+ T cell adaptive COVID-19 vaccine, currently in completion for a phase 1 clinical trial in Switzerland.
In 2020, Emergex raised more than €9.9 million ( $10.3 million) in a Series A funding round, which allowed it to start and progress the development of vaccines against diseases including dengue, influenza, and Ebola to phase I clinical trials.