Agreement Positions China as a Critical Player in the TB Vaccine Field
ROCKVILLE, Md. and BEIJING, Jan. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The global fight against the tuberculosis epidemic receives a boost today as Aeras and the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) announce that they have reached final agreement to jointly develop new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. The agreement between the leading non-profit developer of TB vaccine candidates and the largest biotechnology corporation in China signals a commitment by both to engage and strengthen the role of China in the fight against one of the world's deadliest infectious disease killers.
Xiaoming Yang, President of CNBG, said of the agreement: "CNBG has a great deal of expertise and energy to invest in this partnership. Not only is TB a public health crisis of the developing world, it is also a priority health issue here in China. We look forward to working with our counterparts at Aeras to develop new TB vaccines that will help stop tuberculosis in all corners of the world."
Multiple research institutes operating under the umbrella of CNBG will engage with Aeras on a strategy focused on the joint development, manufacturing and distribution of affordable new TB vaccines for use globally. The agreement spans all aspects of TB vaccine development – from vaccine discovery to pre-clinical research to clinical research to manufacturing – and positions CNBG as a major emerging player in the TB vaccine field.
Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), the only currently-licensed TB vaccine, does not prevent pulmonary TB, the most common form of the disease. As part of this collaboration, Aeras will license its recombinant BCG (rBCG) platform – which aims to improve upon the current TB vaccine – and other technologies to CNBG. The groups will jointly develop novel TB vaccines using the rBCG platform and other technologies provided by Aeras or CNBG's research institutes. A variety of candidate booster vaccines will be engineered to match the new constructs with a goal to create more efficacious and longer-lasting protection against TB disease.
A keystone of this broad collaboration is the implementation of joint product development teams to develop and execute comprehensive plans for both the research and clinical development of TB vaccines and the design, construction and validation of a vaccine process development and manufacturing facility in China, which will receive financial support and technical expertise provided by Aeras.
"The synergy created by bringing together our scientific and manufacturing expertise could have a substantial impact on efforts to advance innovative candidates in TB vaccine development," said Jim Connolly, President and CEO of Aeras. "We look forward to working with the largest biotech corporation in a country with the skills, resources and TB disease burden to play a major role in overcoming the complex challenges of TB vaccine R&D."
TB is a major public health priority in China, where there are more than one million new TB cases every year. Globally, the TB epidemic is responsible for the deaths of 1.4 million people annually.
Aeras (www.aeras.org) is a non-profit product development organization dedicated to the development of effective TB vaccines and biologics to prevent TB across all age groups in an affordable and sustainable manner. Aeras utilizes its broad capabilities and technologies in collaboration with numerous partners and stakeholders to support the development of vaccines and other biopharmaceuticals to address TB and other significant public health needs of underserved populations. Aeras has invented or supported the development of six TB vaccine candidates to date, five of which are currently undergoing Phase I and Phase II clinical testing in Africa, Asia and North America. Aeras receives funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, other private foundations and various governments. Aeras is based in Rockville, Maryland, USA – where it operates a state-of-the-art manufacturing and laboratory facility – and Cape Town, South Africa.
CNBG (www.cnbg.com.cn) is a company limited by shares, the controlling shareholder of which is China's National Pharmaceutical Corporation (Sinopharm). CNBG has 10 subsidiaries and is the largest biotech corporation in China engaged in the research and development, manufacturing and marketing of biological products. CNBG manufactures more than 200 kinds of biological products (with approximately 100 GMP product lines) for prophylactic, therapeutic and diagnostic use, including all the vaccines in China's EPI programme, and maintains an 80% share of the public sector in China. In 2010, the annual output of CNBG reached 730 million doses, and it maintains one of the broadest portfolios of vaccine products in the world.