Vaccine maker Adimmune Corp (國光生技) yesterday inked a cooperation agreement with UMN Pharma Inc, giving it access to the Japanese firm’s technology, which could help shorten its vaccine manufacturing process to two months from six months.
Under the agreement, Adimmune will also be allowed to file for clinical trial application of UMN Pharma’s flu vaccines and to sell them in China and Taiwan, the Taiwanese firm said.
“We make vaccines by injecting live viruses into fertilized chicken eggs, but in the future we can consign the process to UMN Pharma and take advantage of their technology of baculovirus expression vector system [BEVS],” Adimmune president Liu Chung-cheng (留忠正) said at a press conference.
In the future, Adimmune chairman Steve Chan (詹啟賢) said the company may start part of its vaccine manufacturing process in Japan, but will still use its Taiwanese factory for the final process.
UMN Pharma has the world’s largest BEVS capacity, after the company invested ￥10 billion (US$1.1 billion) to build a factory in Gifu Prefecture, Japan, company chairman and CEO Tatsuyoshi Hirano told the press conference.
UMN Pharma’s new factory started operating in May and can produce 10 million vials of vaccines a year, Hirano said, adding that the factory would continue expanding capacity.
The Japanese firm acquired BEVS technology from US-based drug maker Protein Sciences Corp, which gave UMN Pharma the exclusive rights to use it to manufacture drugs in Asia. The technology helps save costs, because it boosts production of the proteins required to produce vaccines.
Tokyo-listed UMN Pharma has a market value of ￥32.7 billion, with three flu vaccines in its new drug pipeline, according to First Capital Management Inc (第一金投顧).
Yesterday’s deal makes Adimmune the only strategic partner of UMN Pharma on either side of the Taiwan Strait, and will enable it to produce a larger stock of flu vaccines within a short period should an outbreak occur, the company said.
Adimmune reported losses of NT$309.78 million (US$10.5 million), or NT$1.68 per share, during the first half of the year, according to its Taiwan Stock Exchange filing.
First Capital forecast that Addimune’s losses would shrink to NT$1.26 per share next year, after receiving the green light to sell vaccines in China and adjuvant of hepatitis A in Europe.
It further expects the company to post a profit of NT$3.18 per share in 2015, with vaccine sales in China reaching 1.5 million vials.
Adimmune shares rose 6.15 percent yesterday, outperforming the TAIEX, which climbed 0.52 percent.