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A vaccine the world is waiting for: “It can change the lives of many”

A Solna laboratory is developing a vaccine that could save the lives of countless children in low- and middle-income countries. “Working on something that can make a difference for many people is important to me,” says Christine Hägglund, Laboratory Manager.

She was recruited last spring to Scandinavian Biopharma as Head of CMC Development (Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls) after 18 years at Sobi. 

The incentive is to be part of developing the world’s first vaccine against diarrhoea caused by ETEC bacteria.

“It is the second leading cause of death among children in low- and middle-income countries today, and there is no protection. Apart from them getting enough infections to build up an immune system - if they survive them, which could, if we succeed, really change the lives of a huge part of the world’s population.”

Scandinavian Biopharma is developing two forms of the vaccine: one for travellers visiting high-risk areas and one for children, aged six months to five years, in low- and middle-income countries. The travel vaccine is at the forefront of development and thorough planning is underway for a Phase III clinical trial. The second variant for children is a close second.

The vaccine contains killed bacteria from four different strains of ETEC bacteria, modified to express extra fimbriae. It will be administered together with a supporting protein and an adjuvant.

How is it possible for a small company in Sweden to be so advanced in this field?

“Well, yes, it’s rather fascinating, but we have many partners and enjoy the support of our network. For example, we collaborate with world-leading researchers in mucosal vaccines and diarrhoeal diseases at the University of Gothenburg.”

The company has European and American partners in the form of the EU’s strategic research and development programme (Horizon 2020), PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health) and USAMMDA (United States Army Medical Materiel Development Activity).

Support also comes from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WHO, which has ranked the vaccine candidate as the most advanced against ETEC.

“Many people believe in this product and support us with expertise and money, which is obviously a good feeling.”

Christine Hägglund is one of the speakers at Life Science Sweden’s event, New Horizons in Biologics & Bioprocessing, which takes place at Life City in Stockholm on 14 December.

Artikeln är en del av vårt tema om News in English.

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