GlaxoSmithKline’s shingles vaccine HZ/su has smashed efficacy goals in a late-stage trial slashing the risk of shingles by 97.2% in adults aged 50 years and older compared to placebo.

HZ/su is an experimental vaccine that combines gE, a protein found on the virus that causes shingles, with an adjuvant system, AS01B, designed to enhance the immunological response. 

“If approved, this candidate vaccine may offer an important option for the prevention of shingles, a painful disease that negatively impacts peoples’ health and quality of life,” said Alain Brecx, MD, Vaccine Development Leader at GSK.

Full data from the Phase III ZOster Efficacy trial, which is ongoing in 18 countries with more than 18,000 participants, is due to be disclosed in the coming months, GSK said, but also stressed that no safety concerns have been raised by an Independent Data Monitoring Committee thus far.

If approved, HZ/su could significantly eat into sales of the only approved product on the market - Merck & Co's Zostavax - which overall (in persons age 60 years and older) reduces the occurrence of shingles by about 50%.