GlaxoSmithKline has purchased the Swiss-based vaccine technology company Okairos for 250 million euros in a deal that will bolster the firm’s biologics division.
Swiss-based Okairos, a private biotech company, has developed a vaccine platform technology that GSK will now look to utilise for the development of new vaccines to prevent infection as well as new classes of therapeutic vaccines.
Under the terms of the transaction, GSK will take full ownership of the company and assume ownership of early stage assets for diseases such as respiratory syncytial virus, hepatitis C virus, malaria, tuberculosis, ebola and HIV, supplementing the company’s existing vaccines pipeline.
The London-based firm said in a statement that Okairos’s technology “complements GSK’s existing vaccine technology and expertise”, and will enable GSK to continue its work developing the next generation of vaccines. The deal also includes a small number of early stage assets.
The deal comes nearly a year after GSK bought the biotech firm Human Genome Sciences for $3 billion, taking control of its lupus drug Benlysta, which the firm co-developed with HGS.
Christophe Weber, president of GSK Vaccines, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for patients and our research organisation as it is expected to contribute to the development efforts for an exciting new generation of vaccines, building on the excellent science and expertise of both companies.”
Riccardo Cortese, chief executive of Okairos, added: “I am extremely pleased with this agreement, which will enable GSK to build on the hard work we have put into developing our vaccines and platforms to the stage that they are at today. With its considerable resources and know-how, I am confident that GSK is best-placed to maximise this opportunity to potentially transform the vaccines landscape.”
Okairos develops genetic vaccines for major infectious diseases, including: malaria, hepatitis C, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus and cancer, as well as pursuing therapeutic vaccines to treat cancer.
GSK’s vaccine division is the third component of the firm, which also includes pharmaceuticals and its consumer unit. The division’s most successful offering is the cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix, which jointly won the UK’s prestigious Prix Galien award with Merck’s vaccine Gardasil in 2008.