New vaccine R&D collaboration between Singapore's institute and GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals

January 31, 2009

Singapore's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) and Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) Biologicals SA Belgium have sealed an agreement to collaborate in three vaccine and adjuvant system related research projects.

Adjuvants are compounds used together with vaccines to boost a person's immune responses.

This collaboration, which will integrate BTI's expertise in bioprocessing with GSK's capabilities in biologics, aims to bring about new approaches to vaccine development and production.

BTI is one of the research institutes under Singapore's A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research).

A highlight of the collaboration is the two-year project led by Lam Kong Peng, Ph.D., of BTI's Immunology Programme to uncover the molecular mechanism of new classes of adjuvants provided by GSK Biologicals and their effect on the body's immune system.

Findings from such research work could improve vaccine development and delivery methods, increase the efficacy of vaccination and develop expertise in this new area of research.

Such findings also could have a direct impact on future vaccination programmes in healthcare.

"Vaccine adjuvants have long been used to jump-start the body's immune defense to protect it against harmful pathogens," said Lam. "We are excited as this collaboration will bring out the best of both GSK and BTI's expertise in vaccine R&D to increase our understanding of the complex processes involved."

GSK Biologicals also will work with BTI's Cell Culture and Microarray groups. BTI research scientist Niki Wong, Ph.D., who is working on both projects, said, "We are pleased that GSK has chosen to make use of BTI's protein expression technology and microarray platforms to characterize recombinant vaccine protein production. This increased understanding could lead to the design of strategies for high-yielding and more cost-effective production processes."

Jean-Paul Prieels, M.D., Senior Vice President R&D of GSK Biologicals SA, said, "We are very pleased to be working with BTI. Their expertise on bioprocessing technologies made it a good choice as a partner in conducting cutting-edge vaccine development research. This complements our R&D based-approach in vaccine development and manufacturing. We are hopeful that this partnership will make a measurable contribution in the development of a new generation of vaccines."

Commenting on the significance of the collaboration, BTI Executive Director Miranda Yap, Ph.D., said, "This is the first time we have established a major partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's leading pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. It marks the fruition of BTI's efforts in building bioprocessing expertise and it augurs well for our research institute as we continue to spearhead advances in bioprocessing science, particularly in the area of vaccine research and development."

Lee Eng Hin, Ph.D., Executive Director of A*STAR's Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) added, "GSK's substantial commitment to the collaboration speaks highly of the work done at BTI. Our scientists at the BMRC research institutes are always on the look out for opportunities to partner with the industry on projects that will have direct impact on healthcare issues. This is ever so important as we continue in our push for more translational and clinical research in phase 2 of Singapore's biomedical sciences initiative."

With the marked increase in the number of biologics drug candidates under clinical evaluation in recent years, biologics are expected to contribute significantly to the growing pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industries. Worldwide sales of biologic medications increased by 12.5% in 2007 to USD $75 billion, nearly double the 6.4% increase in sales of traditional pharmaceuticals, according to IMS Health.
For media queries, please contact:

Agency for Science, Technology and Research
Joshua Woo
Corporate Communications
DID: +65 6826 6442

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR):

A*STAR is Singapore's lead agency for fostering world-class scientific research and talent for a vibrant knowledge-based Singapore. A*STAR actively nurtures public sector research and development in Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Engineering, with a particular focus on fields essential to Singapore's manufacturing industry and new growth industries. It oversees 22 research institutes, consortia and centres, and supports extramural research with the universities, hospital research centres and other local and international partners. At the heart of this knowledge intensive work is human capital. Top local and international scientific talent drive knowledge creation at A*STAR research institutes. The agency also sends scholars for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral training in the best universities, a reflection of the high priority A*STAR places on nurturing the next generation of scientific talent.

Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI):

Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) is a member of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Established in 1990 as the Bioprocessing Technology Unit, it was renamed the Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) in 2003. The research institute's mission is to develop manpower capabilities and establish cutting-edge technologies relevant to the bioprocessing community. Some of the key research areas include expression engineering, animal cell technology, stem cell research, microbial fermentation, downstream purification and analytics.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK):

GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit

Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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