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GSK boost vaccines capabilities with €250m Okairos purchase

Acquires novel platform technology and several early stage assets

GSK GlaxoSmithKline house

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has acquired Okairos in a deal worth €250m (about £215m) that will give the pharma company access to platform technologies and early stage assets to support its vaccines business.

According to GSK, Switzerland-based Okairos has novel vaccine technology that complements GSK's own and is expected to play an important role in the development of a new generation of vaccines to both prevent and treat infection.

GSK will also take ownership of several assets in early stage development as vaccines for diseases such as malaria (phase II), hepatitis C virus (one in phase II, one in phase I), HIV (phase I) and respiratory syncytial virus (phase I).

Vaccines for tuberculosis, ebola, influenza and cancer are all in pre-clinical development.

These vaccines target the immune system's T-cells and make use of deactivated adenoviruses from chimpanzees, which are not so easily detected by a person's immune system and can therefore have a bigger impact than human-derived adenoviruses.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for patients and our research organisation as it is expected to contribute to the development efforts for an exciting new generation of vaccines, building on the excellent science and expertise of both companies,” said Christophe Weber, president, GSK Vaccines.

Okairos is a relative new player in the biopharma having formed in 2007 as a spin out from Merck & Co.

It was founded by the same team who founded Istituto di Ricerche di Biologia Molecolare (IRBM) – the company that discovered HIV treatment Isentress (raltegravir) before becoming a subsidiary of Merck.

Okairos, which has received investment from BioMedInvest, Boehringer Ingelheim, LSP, Novartis and Versant Ventures, has already received attention for its novel chimpanzee-based platform, including a collaboration with Aeras and the University of Oxford announced earlier this month to research vaccines for TB, malaria and HIV.

At the time of the announcement, Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University, said: “Chimpanzee adenovirus-based vaccines have recently been shown to safely induce exceptionally potent cellular immunity in adults, children and infants, and are in clinical trials involving over 1,000 vaccinees in seven countries.”

30th May 2013

From: PME

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