Stephenne made the comment late last week after GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) entered a strategic collaboration with Intercell to speed the development and commercialisation of the VE patch and a number of candidate vaccines the technology.
The most significant of these candidates, at least at the moment, is Intercell’s influenza patch, which is designed to enhance the immune response when used in combination with an injected H5N1 pandemic influenza vaccine.
Ongoing Phase II studies suggest the addition of the patch to a single-dose of vaccine generates a seroconversion rate, effectively the concentration of antibodies, of 70 per cent, which is the requirement of regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.
And, although reports suggest that vaccine take-up rates worldwide are less than originally predicted when the H5N1 pandemic began, technologies that can make stockpiles last longer are likely to attract attention.
Under the new development and commercialisation agreement, GSK will pay €33.6m ($49m) upfront and has agreed to invest €84m for a 5 per cent stake in Vienna-headquartered Intercell at a later date.
Stephenne also said that: “This agreement demonstrates how, as an integral part of our R&D program, we not only look at new vaccines but also at alternative approaches to oral and intramuscular administration.”
Vaccines through the skin
The influenza application aside, the V patch version of technology can be used for the administration of vaccines directly through the skin, as evidenced by the travellers-diarrhoea candidate that Intercell has already moved into Phase III trials.
Recent research by Kalorama Information predicted that the global vaccines market will double in size and be worth around $39bn (€26bn) by 2013, which could mean a significant windfall for both Intercell and GSK if the technology lives up to its promise.