ImageNovartis has strengthened its vaccines pipeline through an exclusive agreement to license AlphaVax' investigational Cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine programme. This CMV agreement adds to Novartis' promising early stage pipeline of novel vaccines, which focuses on significant unmet needs for the prevention of fatal diseases such as meningococcal infections and other hospital and community acquired infections.

Novartis has strengthened its vaccines pipeline through an exclusive agreement to license AlphaVax' investigational Cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine programme. This CMV agreement adds to Novartis' promising early stage pipeline of novel vaccines, which focuses on significant unmet needs for the prevention of fatal diseases such as meningococcal infections and other hospital and community acquired infections. These include vaccines to prevent Helicobacter pylori infections, a major cause of gastritis that can lead to gastric cancer, and a Group B Streptococcus vaccine candidate with potential to protect against 85 per cent of neonatal sepsis and meningitis.

"We are happy to gain access to a promising vaccine candidate for the prevention of cytomegalovirus infections, which are particularly problematic during pregnancy as they can cause permanent disability in newborns," said Dr Andrin Oswald, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

AlphaVax is responsible for finalization of phase-I clinical trials, and will provide the clinical trial material for the phase-II trials. Novartis will be responsible for the development of the CMV programme for phase-II clinical trials onwards as well as for registration and world-wide commercialization. The AlphaVax vaccine candidate is based on an alphavirus replicon particle encoding CMV phosphoprotein 65, IE1 (immediate early protein 1) and soluble gB protein.

Novartis signed a definitive agreement to acquire rights to AlphaVax' investigational CMV programme for an upfront payment of USD 20 million, which also grants rights of first negotiation to AlphaVax' preclinical respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) program. In addition Novartis has an option to make an equity investment at the end of phase-II clinical trials for 4 million shares. Under the terms of the agreement AlphaVax will be eligible for milestones and royalties.