UK drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has hooked up with Brazil’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) under a novel agreement designed to develop and manufacture vaccines for “pressing public health priorities” in the country.

Plans for the alliance include the establishment of a new research and development programme for a vaccine for Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease from which around 2.5 billion people around the globe are at risk, and the transfer to Fiocruz of the technology behind GSK’s 10-valent conjugate vaccine for paediatric pneumococcal disease Synflorix, which is to be incorporated into Brazil’s immunisation programme following its approval in June.

The move marks the latest in a stream of deals under GSK’s business strategy of increasing its activities in emerging markets, such as the agreement it signed with China’s Shenzhen Neptunus to develop and manufacture flu vaccines earlier this year. But it is not the first time the world’s second largest drugmaker has partnered with the Brazilian institute, their first collaboration – to supply oral polio vaccine in Brazil – dating back to 1985.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Fiocruz for the production of vaccines, and today marks the first step of an even stronger partnership which includes a joint R&D initiative,” said Jean Stéphenne, president and chief executive of GSK Biologicals. “With Fiocruz’s expertise, we can help to protect Brazilian children from pneumococcal disease today and collaborate on innovative technologies to address Brazil’s public health needs over the coming years,” he added.

Improving health
Also commenting on the alliance, Dr Paulo Gadelha, president of Fiocruz, said it “continues and expands Brazil’s groundbreaking commitment to innovation in public health”, and will also “enhance Brazilian R&D capacity, improve the health of our citizens and cement Brazil’s role as a leading partner on vaccines”.

The groups are also hoping that their continued partnership will help to encourage “cross-fertilisation of ideas and technology”, by bringing scientists from both sides together across facilities in Brazil and Belgium, the headquarters of GSK’s vaccines division.