ICMR, Hilleman labs sign MoU for vaccine development

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New Delhi: An ICMR institute and a global vaccine research and development organisation signed an MoU for today further development and commercialisation of vaccines for Shigellosis and other diarrhoeal diseases.

The MoU was signed here between the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), which is under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), and Hilleman Laboratories, a joint-venture between MSD and Wellcome Trust.

Shigellosis, also known as bacillary dysentery in its most severe manifestation, is a food-borne illness caused by infection by bacteria of the genus Shigella.

“This agreement was signed to make affordable vaccines for the developing world population,” Hilleman said in a statement.

Shigellosis is one of the leading causes of death among children aged under five, with bloody diarrhoea worldwide, especially in low-income developing countries of Africa and South Asia, it said.

According to the 2015 Global Burden of Disease report, diarrhoeal diseases were collectively responsible for 1.3 million deaths across all age groups around the world.

“This is a step in a new direction. India has immense potential in clinical research, drug and device manufacturing and we would like to see more of these kind of partnerships to happen within the country,” Director General of ICMR Soumya Swaminathan was quoted as saying in the statement.

Director, NICED, Shanta Dutta said, “Our association with Hilleman Labs is in alignment with NICED’s mission to identify enteric infections, initiate appropriate multidisciplinary research and develop strategies for treatment, control and prevention of enteric infections.”

Till now Shigella infection was treated with antibiotics and currently there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. In view of the global emergence of multidrug resistant bugs, challenges in global drug discovery program; vaccines are the only effective tool to fight against the disease, he said.

“Candidate vaccines 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,” he added.

The research and development laboratory of Hilleman is located in south Delhi.

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