Research collaboration accelerates the product development process which can ultimately benefit the public. An outstanding example of such collaboration is BIO-NET Asia, a vaccine-focused biotech company that has worked closely with NSTDA and with scientists in South Africa in pediatric vaccine development. Together they have successfully
developed a 5-in-1 or ‘cocktail’ vaccine covering diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B and meningitis in one shot. This vaccine is due for release within the next 5 years.
The company is also conducting research on a vaccine against bordetella pertussis , which causes whooping cough, and against Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) which is a pathogen that can cause meningitis and severe pneumonia. It is estimated that despite recommendations from the World Health Organization, three fourth of children worldwide are not yet immunized against Hib disease. One reason behind the insufficient vaccination program is the high cost of Hib vaccine; BIO-NET is working on the development of a low cost vaccine using high yield fermentation and conjugation technologies.
The dengue program at NSTDA is one of the most advanced research collaborations in Thailand involving medical experts from a number of research institutes. A patent resulting from the collaboration was recently licensed to BIONET-ASIA for further development into a dengue vaccine. The 300 million THB investment is expected to lead to a locally produced dengue vaccine which will be available to the public in 5-8 years. This new vaccine will act as a preventive measure against the resurgence of epidemic dengue fever along Thailand’s borders.
Access to state-of-the-art facilities is critical to the success of vaccine development. The National Biopharmaceutical Facility (NBF), a facility co-invested by BIOTEC, NSTDA and KMUTT, has therefore been made available to BIONET Asia. In addition, NBF aims to be the center of technology transfer for vaccine production technology in Thailand which will help position Thai industry to meet international standards and gain a competitive advantage in the ASEAN Economic Community to be formed in 2015.