GlaxoSmithKline's quadrivalent seasonal influenza vaccine has been granted marketing authorisation in Germany and the UK.

This makes it the first four-strain flu jab to be approved in a European country for the active immunisation of adults and children (from three years of age) to prevent contraction of the disease from the two influenza A virus subtypes and the two influenza B virus types the vaccine contains.

Current inactivated vaccines are trivalent - offering protection against two strains of influenza type A and one of B. But as there are four major strains of flu in circulation, two of type A and two of type B, there have been seasons of vaccine mismatch - when the wrong type B strain has been chosen for that year's vaccine. 

Therefore, GSK's jab can offer a broader protection against the disease than three-strain vaccines. "The vaccine is expected to help protect against four of the predominant strains of influenza circulating, thus potentially reducing the overall influenza related burden of disease," GSK said.

The new four-strain vaccine will be sold under the trade names Influsplit Tetra in Germany and Fluarix Tetra in the UK. The vaccine has already been approved in the US (back in December) where it is also on the market as Fluarix Quadrivalent.

New Phase III trial for Benlysta

Meanwhile, in further good news for GSK, the company said it has kicked off a Phase III trial of its lupus drug Benlysta (belimumab) in patients with ANCA (Anti-neutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibodies) positive vasculitis, a condition characterised by inflammation of the blood vessels.

The multicentre, multi-national, randomised, double-blind study will assess the drug's efficacy and safety in combination with azathioprine for the maintenance of remission in patients with a particular type of vascultitic disease called ANCA associated Vasculitis (Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (Wegener’s) or microscopic polyangiitis).