A*STAR & Cytos Biotechnology establish influenza vaccine collaboration

Switzerland’s Cytos Biotechnology and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) jointly announced today their first collaboration on a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine. This partnership, which involves academic and clinical partners across Singapore1 , aims at research, development and commercialisation of a VLP vaccine2 to manage influenza infections. This collaboration could potentially secure an independent supply of vaccines for Singapore and other ASEAN countries to protect against seasonal influenza and future pandemics and extends Cytos’ R&D pipeline.

Under this agreement, Cytos Biotechnology will work with A*STAR’s Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) and Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) to develop and produce a VLP based vaccine targeting the influenza hemagglutinin protein. The vaccine candidate will then be further evaluated in preclinical safety and efficacy studies by DSO National Laboratories (DSO). Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the Singapore Clinical Research Institute will then conduct a proof-of-concept study to evaluate the safety of the vaccine and its capacity to induce virus-neutralising antibodies (HI titers). Thereafter, Cytos will hold the worldwide, sub-licensable rights to further develop, manufacture and commercialise the vaccine while A*STAR subsidiaries will be entitled to produce the vaccine for Singapore and other ASEAN countries. A*STAR subsidiaries can earn a royalty on worldwide net sales from influenza vaccine products developed under the terms of this agreement.

Prof Sir George Radda, Chairman of A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council which funds part of the research, commented, “We are extremely excited at the progress and scale of this collaboration. It is thanks to the suite of capabilities in Singapore from basic to translational research, and to the technological know-how at Cytos, that such a product can be brought from discovery to clinical delivery, to provide rapid and cost-effective protection against pandemics. We look forward to forging more such powerful partnerships with industry and healthcare organisations to meet public health needs and benefit society.”

Dr Martin Bachmann, Chief Scientific Officer of Cytos, said, “Through access to Singapore’s centres of scientific and drug development excellence, we have the opportunity to gain clinical proof-of-concept for one of Cytos’ VLP vaccines in the prophylactic setting. The influenza vaccine collaboration is the first of its kind for Cytos and offers us the chance to, on the one hand, support Singapore and other member states of ASEAN in becoming more self-sufficient with provision of vaccines relevant to their emerging issues in public health, and, on the other hand, contribute a valuable product candidate to extend Cytos’ existing pipeline.”

“The collaboration with the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Experimental Therapeutics Centre to better understand the nature of influenza pandemic and its spread in the community will greatly enhance our ability to prevent and strengthen our defence against such pandemic threats. We are pleased to be a partner in this collaboration,” said Mr Quek Gim Pew, Chief Executive Officer of DSO.

“We believe that the investment Singapore has made in biomedical research can be translated into a “made in Singapore” influenza vaccine, which could be particularly important in mitigating health risks exacerbated by influenza pandemics,” said Associate Professor Ooi Eng Eong, the project’s lead investigator and a virologist at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore.

Prof Sam Lim, SCRI’s Chief Operating Officer said, “We are very excited to have the opportunity to collaborate across so many different organizations leading to one of the first phase 1 vaccine studies in Singapore. Singaporeans and others in the ASEAN region will greatly benefit from this highly innovative clinical research.”

Click here to view the media release.

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