Indian pharma firm Panacea Biotec has taken a 10 percent stake in UK-based vaccine maker Cambridge Biostability (CBL) for £1.9m (€1.4m) under a new joint venture deal signed between the two companies.
This investment in gives Panacea more insight into CBL's stable liquid vaccine technology - which allows it to make vaccines stable without refrigeration - its ongoing development and application in other vaccines and fields.
Panacea has also entered into an agreement to in-license Cambridge's technology for pentavalent and other vaccines used in the treatment of diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and a virulent form of influenza.
The size of the worldwide market for these types of vaccines is estimated to be in the region of 300 million doses per annum, while it is estimated that a pentavalent thermostable vaccine from Panacea has current market potential of over $135m, the company said.
"Panacea Biotec is one of the top biotechnology companies in India, with particular expertise in the field of vaccines," said David Stone, CBL's chief executive.
"The licensing agreement is a landmark deal for CBL, and demonstrates the commercial potential of our stable liquid technology platform."
Cambridge Biostability's thermostabilisation technology can make vaccines stable without refrigeration, which represents a great advance for vaccination programmes in the developing world, where sometimes very high temperatures can be an issue.
"As well as being very exciting news for CBL, more importantly, it also brings the reality of having a stable liquid pentavalent vaccine out in the field one step closer - available for use in remote areas, at extreme temperatures and no requirement for the complex cold chain," said John Lambert, CBL's chairman.
CBL's technology removes the need for cold chain, which currently costs around $200m a year, but it is also beneficial for industrialised countires as it extends the shelf life of vaccines which could potentially save around $100m in waste vaccines every year.
It is expected that Panacea Biotec will commence clinical trials of the stable liquid pentavalent vaccine in 2008 with a global product launch expected in 2010.