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GSK Expands Vaccines Capabilities with Okairos Purchase

Authored by James Sheppard

The vaccines field has been hoting up recently with a number of companies on the march in the area. In the past 5 years over 190 vaccine partnering deals have been initiated showing the strength of the market. GSK who already have a significant foothold in the vaccine market recently expanded their portfolio with the acquisition of Swiss, Okairos.

GSK announced the $320m deal on the 29th May. The purchase gives GSK access to proprietary technologies designed to stimulate the response of T-cells. The deal was driven in part by GSK’s interest in Okairos’s novel tools for delivering genetic material. This technology can be used across a broad range of vaccines including the hotly contested areas of hepatitis C, HIV, oncology and malaria.

Emmanuel Hannon, Head of Vaccines Development for GSK, stated that the sophistication of the technology compared to older vaccines and its competitors is what drew GSK to the deal. Hannon added ‘Okairos showed the highest level of maturity and is closer to full development and licensing than other deals we looked at.’ Although Mr Hannon declined to mention how close Okairos was to launch with its experimental vaccines.

The global vaccines market is estimated to be worth around $25bn annually and GSK is one of the largest players in this market. GSK’s vaccines revenue in 2012 of £3.3bn which contributed over 13% of total revenue to the global pharma. The Okairos purchase adds to GSK’s vaccines pipeline and more importantly offers GSK the technology to develop multiple vaccines in the future.

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