GSK boosting vaccine tech through $2.1bn Affinivax buy

The planned acquisition will add Affinivax’s Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) to GlaxoSmithKline’s technology portfolio along with a pneumococcal vaccine candidate.

Announced this morning, the proposed deal will see GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) pay $2.1 billion upfront for Massachusetts-based vaccine developer Affinivax. The Big Pharma firm could pay a further $1.2 billion in potential development milestones.

Affinivax’s lead candidate AFX3772 is set to enter Phase III trials for pneumococcal diseases, which include sepsis, pneumonia, meningitis, and others caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Affinivax’ tech and pipeline look to target pneumococcal diseases, caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Image: Stock Photo Secrets

The vaccine candidate has been developed using Affinivax’s proprietary MAPS technology, which will now become part of GSK’s vaccine arsenal.

“The MAPS platform is a significant addition to the range of innovative vaccines tech platforms at GSK, which we hope to also apply to other infectious disease areas,” a GSK spokesperson told BioProcess Insider.

“One of the many reasons why this deal is a strong strategic fit for GSK is that we have existing facilities and expertise (relating to pneumococcal conjugate vaccines) which can be applied to the development and manufacture of the pipeline assets for pneumococcal disease acquired as part of this deal.”

They added that “decisions on specific locations for manufacture will follow, but will be undertaken at GSK manufacturing facilities, and it is unlikely to require major capital expenditure to facilitate this.”

MAPS technology

The tech has been touted to simplify vaccine design for the most challenging infections and other diseases due to its ability to induce a broad protective immune response with both polysaccharide and protein antigens incorporated in a single vaccine.

“Our MAPS platform enables our vaccines to have uniquely broad and protective immune response – including a B-cell immune response to the polysaccharides and B cell and T-cell immune responses to the proteins – without the requirement for a novel adjuvant,” Affinivex claims on its website.

“The potential for a broader and more robust immune response to both polysaccharide and protein antigens differentiates our MAPS platform from polysaccharide conjugate vaccine technologies, where the protective immune response is primarily based on the polysaccharides.”

The firm also says the technology allows flexible, plug-and-play vaccine design and greater ease of manufacturing due to a reproducible and modular high-affinity binding of the core vaccine components.

“GSK’s significant capabilities will enable continued advances with MAPS to improve existing vaccines – as is the case with our lead Streptococcus pneumoniae MAPS vaccine program – and develop vaccines that combat novel and resistant infectious diseases for which there are no effective immunization strategies available today,” said Affinivax CEO Steven Brugger.