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Takeda buys vaccines specialist Inviragen

Acquires vaccine candidates against dengue fever and hand, foot and mouth disease in $250m deal

Takeda pharma buidlingTakeda has gained the rights to vaccines candidates against emerging infectious diseases, including dengue and hand, foot and mouth disease, as part of a $250m deal to acquire Inviragen.

The biopharma company Inviragen, which has operations in the US and Singapore, will receive an upfront payment of $25m, and development and commercial milestones of up to $215m.

Its lead candidate is DENVax, a four-strain recombinant viral vaccine for the prevention of dengue infection – the most widespread tropical disease after malaria.

A two-dose regimen of DENVax is currently in phase II trials, although Sanofi Pasteur is currently leading the way in getting the first dengue vaccine to market following the announcement last year of encouraging data in a phase IIb trial.

Questions remain about the efficacy of Sanofi's candidate, however, and DENVax could prove a major coup for Takeda if it gets to market first.

In addition to its dengue vaccine, Takeda will also acquire the rights to Inviragen's candidate to protect against hand, foot and mouth disease caused by enterovirus 71.

This is a condition that usually affects children and can lead to fever, headache and fatigue. Inviragen's vaccine is about to enter phase II clinical testing.

Inviragen has also developed a recombinant vaccine candidate to protect against chikungunya, a tropical viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. This is currently in preclinical development.

Dr Rajeev Venkayya, executive VP and head of Takeda's vaccine business division, said the deal was a “major step” toward the establishment of a world-class global vaccine business, which currently includes vaccines for human papillomavirus and pandemic influenza.

The acquisition also gives Takeda scope to tackle neglected tropical diseases, which have become an increasingly important target for major pharma companies.

This includes an agreement made at the end of 2012 between the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US, UAE and UK governments and 13 pharmaceutical companies (not including Takeda) to control and eliminate these diseases.

“Today's announcement reinforces Takeda's commitment to develop innovative vaccines to fight some of the world's most important infectious diseases,” said Dr Venkayya.

8th May 2013

From: Research, Healthcare

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