Local vaccine manufacturer AJ Biologics Malaysia (AJB Malaysia) has entered into a tripartite collaboration with Hilleman Laboratories (HL) and AJ Vaccines (AJV) to develop in Malaysia, the world's first animal component-free vaccine for meningitis.
AJB Malaysia chief operating officer, Jerome Cabannes said the animal component-free element of the vaccine would make it the preferred choice for the halal market.
"It also presents the potential for the nation to fuel the demand for meningococcal vaccines in Malaysia, especially for the global halal markets and the haj travel industry.
We hope to offer this vaccine not just in Malaysia and the Middle East but also around the world," he said in a statement here, today.
The meningococcal disease, or most commonly addressed as meningitis, is an acute bacterial infection that affects the brain and spinal cord. Left untreated, it can cause death within hours, with up to 50% fatality rate, and more than 10% possibility of permanent disabilities such as deafness or brain damage.
Cabannes said the new vaccine aimed to address five bacteria groups, which would contribute significantly towards the effort in enhancing defence for the public and cross-border travellers.
Meanwhile, he said the collaboration would see AJB leveraging HL and AJV technical know-how and expertise to co-develop the vaccine, with the first phase of the project to begin mid this year.
"AJB aims to move the entire production of the vaccines into its manufacturing sites, including Malaysia's first fill-and-finish vaccine facility in Bandar Enstek, Negri Sembilan, which is currently under development," he said.
Headquartered in India, HL is an equal joint-venture partnership formed between Merck & Co (known as MSD outside US and Canada) and Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to human and animal health.