Crucell N.V.and the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation of Bethesda, Maryland, announced today a new collaboration on the pre-clinical and clinical development of candidate tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. Aeras has agreed to provide Crucell up to USD$2.9 million contingent upon meeting certain development milestones, for development of TB vaccine candidates.
The Crucell-Aeras TB vaccine program will focus on improvement of the only currently available TB vaccine, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), using Crucell's proprietary PER.C6? and AdVac? technologies. With this collaboration contract, Crucell's early stage TB vaccine development is fully funded up to entering the clinic.
"Currently one-third of the world's population is infected with TB, and someone is newly infected every second. A new vaccine is the best hope for defeating this terrible disease," said Dr. Jerald Sadoff, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation. "We chose Crucell to develop a candidate TB vaccine because the company's vector technology is among the best in the world."
Crucell's tuberculosis and malaria vaccine candidates are both based on the Company's PER.C6™ and AdVac™ technologies. "We see this collaboration with Aeras as a strong endorsement of Crucell's vaccine programs" stated Ronald Brus, Chief Executive Officer of Crucell. "Crucell aims to improve the existing vaccine against TB, a disease which kills over two million people globally per year." Jaap Goudsmit, Chief Scientific Officer at Crucell, added, "Our AdVac™ technology is designed to deliver the protection against TB required at the scale needed to have impact on this devastating TB epidemic. We think we can contribute with our technology to the improvement of global health."
Dr. Sadoff added, "We are very pleased to be working with Crucell and to be able to use their advanced technology to develop new TB vaccines, which the world so desperately needs." The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation recently awarded Aeras a grant of USD$82.9 million for new TB vaccine development. Aeras aims to work with leading public and private organizations around the world to bring an improved TB vaccine to market within the next 7 to 10 years.
Today, Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) represents one of the most prevalent infectious diseases throughout the world. The increased incidence of TB is a consequence of the spread of HIV/AIDS, the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of TB and variability in protective efficacy of the only currently available vaccine, BCG. Although the BCG vaccine offers protection against the most serious forms of TB in childhood, its efficacy wanes over a period of 10-15 years after the vaccination. A need for an alternative vaccination approach has emerged in the last two decades.