Mumbai: Hilleman Laboratories, a non-profit joint venture of pharmaceutical major Merck, Sharp & Dohme and UK-based Wellcome Trust, on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), a part of Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR), to develop a new vaccine for diarrhoea caused by Shigella bacteria.
Hilleman Labs will take the lead in further development of the vaccine candidate for which NICED has already conducted initial research and also be responsible for its regulatory filings and commercialization, said Davinder Gill, chief executive officer of the company. NICED will provide support in the research studies.
Shigellosis is one of the leading causes of death among children under five years of age, especially in low-income developing countries of Africa and South Asia.
“Candidate vaccine against the infection have been developed and tested at NICED by using the in-vitro animal models, which showed significant immune response and protection against the infection,” Shanta Dutta, director of NICED, said.
Hilleman Labs is also developing four other vaccines for diarrhoeal diseases. Its rotavirus vaccine is in phase-II clinical trials and the company is in discussions with various companies for potential out-licensing or partnerships.