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Aeras and CNBG sign agreement on tuberculosis vaccine R&D

ROCKVILLE, MD, USA/BEIJING, CHINA -- The global fight against the tuberculosis epidemic receives a boost today as Aeras and the China National Biotec Group (CNBG) announce that they have reached final agreement to jointly develop new tuberculosis (TB) vaccines. The agreement between the leading non-profit developer of TB vaccine candidates and the largest biotechnology corporation in China signals a commitment by both to engage and strengthen the role of China in the fight against one of the world's deadliest infectious disease killers.

Xiaoming Yang, President of CNBG, said of the agreement: "CNBG has a great deal of expertise and energy to invest in this partnership. Not only is TB a public health crisis of the developing world, it is also a priority health issue here in China. We look forward to working with our counterparts at Aeras to develop new TB vaccines that will help stop tuberculosis in all corners of the world."

Multiple research institutes operating under the umbrella of CNBG will engage with Aeras on a strategy focused on the joint development, manufacturing and distribution of affordable new TB vaccines for use globally. The agreement spans all aspects of TB vaccine development from vaccine discovery to pre-clinical research to clinical research to manufacturing and positions CNBG as a major emerging player in the TB vaccine field.

Bacille Calmette-Gurin (BCG), the only currently-licensed TB vaccine, does not prevent pulmonary TB, the most common form of the disease. As part of this collaboration, Aeras will license its recombinant BCG (rBCG) platform which aims to improve upon the current TB vaccine and other technologies to CNBG. The groups will jointly develop novel TB vaccines using the rBCG platform and other technologies provided by Aeras or CNBG's research institutes. A variety of candidate booster vaccines will be engineered to match the new constructs with a goal to create more efficacious and longer-lasting protection against TB disease.

A keystone of this broad collaboration is the implementation of joint product development teams to develop and execute comprehensive plans for both the research and clinical development of TB vaccines and the design, construction and validation of a vaccine process development and manufacturing facility in China, which will receive financial support and technical expertise provided by Aeras.

"The synergy created by bringing together our scientific and manufacturing expertise could have a substantial impact on efforts to advance innovative candidates in TB vaccine development," said Jim Connolly, President and CEO of Aeras. "We look forward to working with the largest biotech corporation in a country with the skills, resources and TB disease burden to play a major role in overcoming the complex challenges of TB vaccine R&D."

TB is a major public health priority in China, where there are more than one million new TB cases every year. Globally, the TB epidemic is responsible for the deaths of 1.4 million people annually.

Contact: Jamie Rosen

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