Australian biotechnology group Intercell must have been popping the corks yesterday, after it sealed a deal with US drug giant Wyeth - worth up to $77 million - for use of its vaccine booster in the latter’s vaccine development programs.

Under the terms of the global, non-exclusive partnership, Wyeth will be able to use Intercell’s fully-synthetic vaccine booster IC31 in some of its infectious disease programs, and the Vienna-based group could pocket up to $77 million in upfront fees and milestone payments as well as sales-based royalties in return.

Wyeth will be hoping that the move will ultimately help it reap more efficient vaccines from its development programs, as those based on antigens alone are not sufficient to provide full protection against a disease, Intercell explained in a statement. Adjuvants such as IC31 - which prompt a safe immune response - are necessary to “educate” the immune system to recognise and destroy the pathogens effectively, it said.

“After having partnered a number of our vaccine candidates derived from our extremely successful Antigen Identification Program with leading players in the vaccine industry, we are convinced that our adjuvant IC31 will also generate significant value in the vaccine sector,” said Alexander von Gabain, Intercell’s Chief Scientific Officer, commenting on the deal.