Takeda expands vaccine platform rights with Nanotherapeutics agreement

In an effort to widen the reach of its flu vaccines business--and to develop new vaccines on a familiar platform--Takeda has inked an agreement to expand its rights to the Vero cell technology platform for vaccines production from Florida's Nanotherapeutics, Inc.

Takeda will gain access to the Vero technology--which Nanotherapeutics purchased from Baxalta ($BXLT)--to commercialize its pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines for Japan and other regions and to develop vaccines beyond flu. The financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Takeda began using the Vero platform when it signed a deal with Baxter in 2010 to license rights for the development of pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines for the Japanese market. It's currently working with the platform on TAK-850, a cell-based seasonal flu vaccine, also for use in Japan. Late last year, as it was gearing up to split its bioscience division into Baxalta, Baxter ($BAX) announced its intentions to sell the proprietary technology to Nanotherapeutics.

Takeda vaccines president Rajeev Venkayya

Takeda's vaccines president Rajeev Venkayya said in a Thursday statement the deal creates "the opportunity to expand the reach of Takeda's pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines" and "reinforces Takeda's commitment to its global vaccine business and our goal of reaching as many people as possible with vaccines that address important unmet needs in global public health."

As CEO Christophe Weber works to engineer a turnaround for Japan's oldest pharma, he has said the company will look with an increased focus on vaccines, and Takeda's recent moves demonstrate that. In February, the company placed a vaccines hub in Singapore with an infectious diseases focus as part of an effort to "accelerate the globalization" of its vaccines unit. A short time later, in June, it announced its intention to consolidate U.S. vaccines ops in Cambridge, MA, to "execute Phase III clinical programs and set the stage for commercialization" of its dengue and norovirus vaccines, Venkayya said at the time.

Weber has also said the firm isn't ignoring the Indian vaccines market, with Takeda executives saying in January that the company identified several M&A targets there as potential entry points.

- here's the release

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