Source: NLM, NIH
Source: NLM, NIH

Protein Sciences, Sinergium Biotech, and the private foundation Mundo Sano said today they will form a consortium to jointly develop a vaccine against the Zika virus.

The value of the collaboration was not disclosed. Sinergium agreed to pay an upfront fee to fund development and manufacture of the vaccine being produced at Protein Sciences. The vaccine will be produced using the technology of Protein Sciences, whose FDA-approved Flublok is the world's first recombinant protein-based vaccine for prevention of seasonal influenza disease. 

In return, Sinergium will receive manufacturing and commercial rights to the vaccine in Argentina and other counties to be determined. The companies also said they are in “active” discussions with additional strategic partners worldwide, with the goal of strengthening and rapidly advancing the development program.

The partners plan to develop a vaccine based on recombinant variations of the E protein from the Zika virus. Protein Sciences has produced similar vaccine candidates against West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis virus. Both candidates were shown to neutralize their respective viruses in preclinical studies.

“We initiated Zika vaccine development in February and are rapidly advancing vaccine candidates to the clinic,” Protein Sciences President and CEO Manon M.J. Cox, Ph.D., said in a statement.

She added that Sinergium's proximity to the heart of the outbreak “opens up channels of support that would otherwise be inaccessible.” The company owns a 20,000 square-meter (215,278-square-foot) production facility in Garin, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and manufactures more than 13 million doses of vaccines that include seasonal influenza, pneumococcal and HPV.

Mundo Sano aims to promote and create conditions that improve the health of people exposed to neglected diseases, working in Argentina, Spain, and Africa.