Sanofi receives $43.2M to accelerate Zika vaccine development

Sanofi said HHS has agreed to provide $43.2 million in funding forthe phase II development of an inactivated Zika vaccine. 

The French pharmaceutical company's vaccines global business unit, Sanofi Pasteur, committed to researching and developing a Zika vaccine in February, shortly after the World Health Organization declared an emergency.

In July, Sanofi Pasteur announced a research and development deal with the U.S. Army to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine. The partnership with Walter Reed Army Institute of Research provides the drugmaker access to a promising new vaccine that's made from inactivated virus and has already shown positive results in mice.

The recent HHS funding aims to take the WRAIR's Zika purified inactivated virus vaccine into phase II development with manufacturing and characterization of the vaccine product as well as optimization of the upstream process to improve production yields, Sanofi said.

Sanofi Pasteur is in the process of creating a clinical development and regulatory strategy, while WRAIR and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, are conducting a series of phase I ZPIV trials, according to a news release.  Beyond the funding provided by HHS for the two phase I/II clinical trials, there is an option in the contract that HHS can exercise for continuing support through Phase III industrial and clinical development. 

"Given the devastating effects that this infectious disease can have on babies of infected mothers and the fact that the disease appears to rapidly spread, Sanofi Pasteur decided to get involved early on," David Loew, Sanofi executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement. "We are very pleased that the U.S. government is committed to working with us to develop a Zika vaccine. Based on this collaboration, we can bring together resources and expertise which are essential in fighting this public health concern."



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