Acambis has linked arms with Sanofi Pasteur to help speed up the time to approval of its West Nile vaccine ChimeriVax, which, it says, is the leading candidate currently in development.

At present, there is no marketed vaccine against this disease, cases of which have already hit 3,625 in the USA this year alone. Acambis is hoping that the financial muscle of Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines arm of sanofi-aventis, will help to bring the vaccine to market quicker.

“Vaccination is the ideal approach to tackling this disease and, through this unique collaboration, we aim to bring this vaccine to market as rapidly as possible,” commented Ian Garland, Acambis’ Chief Executive Officer. And Wayne Pisano, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sanofi Pasteur, added: “Providing a vaccine against West Nile disease may now be within reach. This vaccine candidate is the most promising in the industry and would help meet a growing public health need.”

Phase II evaluation
Acambis is currently conducting a Phase II safety, tolerability and immunogenicity trial of ChimeriVax-West Nile in the USA in adults aged 41-64 years and 65 years and above. Preliminary data from an earlier Phase II dose-ranging trial in healthy adults were very encouraging, showing that over 98% of subjects sero-converted 28 days after a single vaccination.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Sanofi Pasteur is responsible for funding the UK group’s development of the vaccine in preparation for a US filing as well as its commercialisation, a spokeswoman for Acambis told PharmaTimes UK News.

Specifically, Acambis stands to receive an upfront payment of $10 million, as well as milestone payments of up to $70 million based on product approval and sales in the USA, and development funding and royalties on net sales of the vaccine should a green light be obtained.

Earlier this year, Acambis announced that it had signed a licensing agreement with a unit of Sanofi Pasteur for its experimental vaccine to fight Japanese encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.