New Delhi– Indian drug major Sun Pharmaceutical Industries on Wednesday said it has entered into an agreement with the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) to develop a novel dengue vaccine for India and global markets.

“Our new collaboration with ICGEB for developing an affordable dengue vaccine is part of our broader commitment for developing new and improved vaccines and drugs against flaviviruses that are of significant health importance to India and rest of the world,” said Kirti Ganorkar, Executive Vice President and Head, Global Business Development, Sun Pharma.

“Our decision to partner with ICGEB on dengue vaccine programme followed extensive due diligence and expert consultations on existing dengue vaccine programmes globally,” Ganorkar noted.

The announcement comes even as the world’s first dengue vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine unit of the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, awaits approval in India. Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine has received approval in 11 countries so far.

Nonprofit research organisation ICGEB has conducted pre-clinical studies over the past seven years and developed the existing know-how and patents for the novel dengue vaccine candidate.

“Our pre-clinical data is very encouraging and this could be an ideal dengue vaccine candidate for all target populations,” Dinakar Salunke, Director, ICGEB, said.

This is the second collaboration between Sun Pharma and ICGEB focusing on dengue.

The first one, announced in May 2016, was related to the development of a botanical drug for treatment of dengue. The current collaboration is focussed on developing a novel, safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of dengue.

Initial findings of ICGEB’s dengue vaccine indicate that the candidate induces serotype-specific non-cross-reactive and strongly neutralising antibodies without disease enhancing concerns.

The vaccine will be targeted against all the four serotypes of dengue virus that cause disease in humans.

India is endemic for dengue with all four of its serotypes having been found circulating in various parts of the country.

The new vaccine development will focus on suitability for all target population whether previously affected or non-affected, including paediatric and adults and traveller population.

According to the agreement signed on Wednesday, Sun Pharma will fund and support further development of the vaccine candidate and existing ICGEB know-how and patents.

ICGEB will grant Sun Pharma exclusive rights and licenses for development and commercialisation of this vaccine globally.