Sanofi CEO wants to leverage Dengue vax success to expedite Zika vaccine development
- Speaking in Paris, Sanofi CEO Olivier Brandicourt said Sanofi will expedite development of a Zika vaccine by leveraging the company's experience with its recently approved dengue vaccine
- Brandicourt hopes testing could begin in people sometime next year, but full clinical development is not likely to occur in less than three years.
- Sanofi will look to its ChimeriVax technology for possible applications for a Zika vaccine. Dengvaxia, its dengue vaccine, was produced through this technology.
Olivier Brandicourt pledged to use all of Sanofi Pasteur's know-how to drive the development of a Zika vaccine forward, according to remarks in Paris reported by Bloomberg.
Both dengue and zika are from the same flavivirus family, and share similar symptoms and transmission vectors. This relationship may help Sanofi jumpstart its development process.
However, given the 20 years and $1.69 billion Sanofi spent to develop dengvaxia, Brandicourt is only planning initial investment of several million euros in Zika R&D.
It is possible people exposed to dengue might have cross-immunity to the Zika virus. If that is the case, development efforts will be greatly supported by existing technology.
Other major pharma companies have begun hunting for a Zika vaccine, while governments in the U.S., Europe, and South America have urged speedy development. President Obama recently requested $1.8 billion from Congress to combat the spread of Zika, which the World Health Organization has labeled an international public health emergency.