GlaxoSmithKline signs two new vaccine R&D partnerships

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) flu vaccines, Fluarix and FluLaval, are both egg-based and can take months to produce each year. Now, the company has signed a pair of research deals, one of which would allow it to make cell-based vaccines, which are more efficient to manufacture.

Valneva announced Monday that it entered an R&D collaboration with GSK to develop flu vaccines using its EB66 cell line. It made 7 deals last year for vaccine makers to use the platform, which allows for faster manufacturing through the use of duck embryonic stem cells.

Under the agreement, Lyon, France-based Valneva will embark on a R&D program on GSK's behalf to develop and improve upstream processes that will be used to manufacture flu vaccines based on the cell line.

Traditional egg-based flu vaccines usually take 6 months to produce and so, force companies to formulate them far in advance of when they will be used. This can result in a mismatch between the strains in a particular year's flu vaccine and the actual strains that circulate. While an EB66-based flu jab could give GSK a leg up in the flu vaccine market, competitors such as Protein Sciences and CSL ($CSL) are already marketing cell-culture vaccines that take just weeks to manufacture. And Novavax ($NVAX) and VaxInnate have taken their recombinant flu candidates into Phase III trials.

Also this week, Cambridge, MA-based VBI Vaccines ($VBIV) announced a research partnership with GSK, under which the Big Pharma has the option to negotiate an exclusive license for VBI's LPV platform for use in a specific field. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed. In April last year, VBI and Sanofi ($SNY) inked a deal to apply the LPV technology to an unnamed Sanofi vaccine.

The LPV platform allows for the development of vaccines with better thermostability and preserved potency. Temperature-stable vaccines would cut out the need for refrigeration and cold-chain transportation. They would enable Glaxo to enter developing markets and widen the reach of its vaccine offerings.

- here's the Valneva release
- and here's the VBI Vaccines release

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