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Imperial Innovations inks meningitis vaccine licensing deal with Novartis

By David Schwartz
Published: February 3rd, 2010

Imperial Innovations Group plc, the tech transfer arm of Imperial College London, has granted Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics a worldwide, exclusive license to a preclinical-stage vaccine candidate against meningitis B. Although full terms of the deal were not disclosed, Imperial Innovations received an upfront payment and will be entitled to development milestones and royalties if the vaccine goes to market. In addition, Novartis will pay £1 million (US $1.62 million) to fund further preclinical research at the university over the next two years. The vaccine is based on the work of Christoph Tang, professor in the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection at Imperial College London and Susan Lea, professor of chemical biology at Oxford University.

Although vaccines are commercially available against meningitis A and C strains, the meningitis B strain is not addressed by current vaccines and presents a significant disease burden. Meningitis B vaccines have been elusive for two main reasons, according to Novartis. Unlike other serogroups, MenB polysaccharide produces a poor response from the immune system, and some MenB antigens are similar to glycoproteins found in humans, prompting concerns about autoimmunity. The vaccine outlicensed from Imperial Innovations has the potential to produce an enhanced immune response, which may confer greater protection than other vaccines currently in development. Completing the deal with Novartis “provides the finance to move the research towards clinical development,” says Susan Searle, CEO of Imperial Innovations. “If successful, such a product could provide a significant royalty stream to Imperial Innovations.”

Sources: Science Business and Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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