Two months after entering the Zika vaccine race, Meriden, CT’s Protein Sciences has formed a consortium with an Argentinian biotech and a private foundation to advance its work in the field.
Protein Sciences, maker of the Flublok influenza vaccine, will team with Sinergium Biotech in a tie-up that will see Sinergium pay an undisclosed fee to fund the development and manufacturing of a candidate under development at Protein Sciences. Mundo Sano, an organization founded in 1993 with activities in Argentina, Spain and Africa focused on the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and awareness for neglected diseases, is also participating, though the statement didn't say in what capacity.
According to Protein Sciences’ statement, the vaccine under development is “based on production of recombinant variations of the E protein from the Zika virus.” Manon Cox, Protein Sciences’ CEO, added that the company is “rapidly” moving toward the clinic with candidates.
In return for the development costs, Sinergium will receive manufacturing and commercial rights to the vaccine in Argentina and “other countries to be determined,” the statement said. The team is in discussions with other potential partners, as well.
The collaborators will have plenty of competition in the Zika vaccine race, as WHO recently tallied 18 companies and organizations working on vaccines against the virus. However, Protein Sciences says its tech is unique in that it’s the only platform recognized by the U.S. government as capable of responding to a pandemic influenza outbreak in time.
It’s also a “plug-and-play” platform, the company said, potentially allowing the team to jump regulatory and safety obstacles along the way.
The tie-up comes a week after Nova Scotia’s Immunovaccine partnered with national security contractor Leidos on Zika vaccine work and as the virus has reportedly spread in more than 50 countries and territories. Vaccine leader Sanofi ($SNY), which is launching its first-of-a-kind vaccine for dengue, hopes to apply knowledge from that effort to its own work in the Zika space.
On Sunday, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci said the virus was likely to make it to the United States in the form of local outbreaks, Reuters reported, though he added he didn’t expect an epidemic there.