[Photo provided by SK Chemicals Co.]
South Korean vaccine maker SK Chemicals Co. has clinched a deal with U.S.-based Sanofi Pasteur Inc. to license out its cell culture technology for producing influenza vaccines, an agreement that could be worth up to $155 million.
SK Chemicals said Monday it would receive an upfront payment of $15 million and another $20 million upon completion of the technology transfer. The remaining payment would depend on the success of each development stage and could be as high as $120 million. It would also receive royalties during the first 15 years of sale or until the patent goes off.
Under the agreement, Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, would have exclusive rights to the technology in Europe and the United States.
The cell culture method is a way of making flu vaccines by growing viruses in animal cells. It is considered more efficient and flexible than the traditional egg-based process as it cuts down the vaccine manufacturing time by nearly half, allowing for a faster response to unexpected influenza outbreaks.
Based on this new technology, SK Chemicals in 2015 released a trivalent flu vaccine to protect against three different virus strains and became the world’s first company to commercialize a quadrivalent flu vaccine the following year. It plans to apply its cell-based technology to universal flu vaccines that are under development.
Park Mahn-hoon, chief executive of SK Chemicals, said its strategy of focusing on premium vaccines has paid off. “The recent deal is a testament to Korea’s advanced vaccine technology,” he said.
Buoyed by the news, SK Chemicals shares closed Tuesday up 3.88 percent at 107,000 won.
By Kim Hye-soon and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]