Aeras and China National Biotech Group Sign Memorandum of Understanding for TB Vaccine R&D Collaboration

 Aeras and the China National Biotech Group (CNBG) have signed a memorandum of understanding for the two organizations to pursue opportunities to jointly develop tuberculosis (TB) vaccines in China and potentially other parts of the world. The scope of potential activities will cover the full spectrum of product development, including pre-clinical development, process development and manufacturing, and clinical development in TB and potentially other disease areas.
The partnership is intended to leverage both organizations' capabilities to support the development of TB vaccines. Despite global efforts to control and treat tuberculosis, it remains a major global public health challenge, infecting world wide around 9 million people and  killing upward of 1.7 million people (many of them children) annually.   In China alone there are more than one million new TB cases every year. Although TB mostly affects poor people in developing countries, it is prevalent in all continents, especially in Asia, Africa and Europe. Multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) that does not respond to the standard treatments, using first-line drugs, is present in virtually all countries in the world. There were an estimated 440,000 new MDR-TB cases in 2008 with the three countries of China, India and the Russian Federation, accounting for over 50% of all cases globally:  Co-infection with HIV/AIDS and the spread of drug-resistant forms of TB make it all the more difficult to diagnose and treat, especially in poor and marginalized communities. Hence new tools to prevent TB, including vaccines, are urgently needed.

Treating TB is challenging, even in developed countries having modern health care systems and the necessary infrastructure. Current treatment regimens last six to nine months, and erratic or inconsistent treatment breeds multidrug-resistant and even extensively drug-resistant TB, which means that this pandemic could become even more difficult to control in future. There is, therefore, an urgent need for a modern, safe and effective vaccine that would prevent all forms of TB, including the drug-resistant strains, in all age groups and among people with HIV.

Currently, only one vaccine against tuberculosis is available. The BCG vaccine protects children against severe forms of the disease but offers very limited protection against pulmonary TB in adults. In order to quickly deliver live-saving vaccines, we need to continue and strengthen collaboration between private and public enterprises. So this collaboration comes at a very crucial time with the hope that it will intensify the efforts of the researchers to provide lasting solutions for the growing threat of tuberculosis.

 "At CNBG, we recognize the urgent need to combat tuberculosis and other infectious diseases in both China and around the world," said Xiaoming Yang, President of CNBG. "This new collaboration will bring more opportunities to both organizations in pursuing greater innovation and building increased technical capacity for vaccine development."

According to Jim Connolly, Aeras’ President & Chief Executive Officer, “Aeras is excited to expand our relationship with CNBG. The synergy created by bringing together CNBG's considerable infrastructure and manufacturing expertise with Aeras' promising TB vaccine pipeline, as well as our clinical and technical expertise, will significantly enhance the likelihood of a new TB vaccine being developed quickly and efficiently."   

 Citizen News Service

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