Affinivax and Astellas take a shot at pneumococcus vaccine
- Vaccine tech company Affinivax has hooked up with Astellas Pharma to develop a vaccine to prevent pneumococcal disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and cut its spread.
- Astellas will fund the program, including an upfront payment of $10 million, and will get worldwide commercial rights to the vaccine, which will be based on Affinivax’s Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) vaccine technology.
- Affinivax will also receive development and commercial milestone payments as well as tiered royalties.
In the U.S. every year, almost a million people develop pneumococcal diseases and nearly half of these will end up in the hospital. Worldwide, 1.6 million people will die from the infection, and over half are under five years old. Vaccines could save lives, as well as cutting the spread of the disease.
"I am pleased to enter into this agreement and partner with Affinivax to develop a pneumococcal vaccine using their novel MAPS technology." said Kenji Yasukawa, chief strategy officer of Astellas. "Astellas expects to provide a new option to prevent pneumococcal disease with high unmet medical needs by developing innovative MAPS vaccine as part of our commitment to serve patient interests worldwide."
There are a number of pneumococcal vaccines available, such as Pfizer's Prevnar, GlaxoSmithKline's Synflorix and Merck & Co.'s Pneumovax. The challenge for the partners will be to create a vaccine that has advantages over the established vaccines, for example effectiveness against a variety of serotypes, as well as making it available at cost-effective prices for refugees and in the developing countries where the need is greatest.
According to Affinivax, its MAPS technology creates a broad immune response by combining polysaccharides and proteins into a single vaccine. This has potential to be able to protect against all serotypes, and could protect against invasive disease, colonization and disease transmission. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has supported Affinivax's development of its pneumococcal vaccine, providing a $2.5 million milestone-linked investment in February 2016.
In October 2015, Affinivax announced a collaboration with Astellas to develop MAPS vaccines to prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
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