Emergent BioSolutions and Temasek Life Science Ventures (TLV) entered into an agreement to form Epic Bio, a joint venture (JV) focused on developing a vaccine against influenza caused by a broad range of circulating H5 strains. The JV will work to develop, manufacture, and commercialize a multivalent, cross-protective human vaccine.
Under the terms of the joint venture, both companies will contribute cash and intellectual property to the partnership. Emergent will have 60% ownership, while TLV will hold 40% of the joint venture. Epic Bio will be based in Singapore.
The broad-spectrum pandemic flu vaccine is expected to be based on multiple antigens held by TLV and to be delivered as a single vaccine using Emergent’s MVAtor™ vaccine delivery platform. Epic Bio plans to initiate clinical manufacturing of the broad-spectrum H5 vaccine candidate in 2011, with the clinical trial scheduled to begin in 2012.
Some of the anticipated attributes and differentiating features of the vaccine candidate include incorporating three H5HA antigens from divergent H5 strains within a single candidate, including the Vietnam strain on which most other pandemic vaccines are based; work on cell culture-based manufacturing that is not dependent on chicken eggs; and enabling long-term stability thus allowing for potential stockpiling of bulk vaccine.
In addition to the H5 vaccine, the JV will develop mAbs for the treatment of pandemic H5 influenza using TLV’s monoclonal technology. It is anticipated that the mAb candidate will offer broad protection against most circulating H5 influenza strains and will limit the ability of the virus to mutate and escape therapy.