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Home News centre National Press Releases 2013 Press Releases ›  HPA signs unique polio vaccine license deal

HPA signs unique polio vaccine license deal

28 March 2013

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has recently agreed a non-exclusive Material Transfer, Patent and Know-How License Agreement with the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for the development and manufacture of a ‘next generation’ polio vaccine which could be a major step in the eradication of polio.

Global polio eradication will require the eventual cessation of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) worldwide. Post eradication, vaccination against polio will have to continue with IPV. One of the solutions to ensure and maintain this transition longer term is the opportunity to develop the next generation vaccine strains developed by HPA to produce IPV in developing countries.

Researchers at the HPA’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) have developed genetically stable strains allowing a simpler process for production of inactivated polio vaccines in developing countries. This approach, and biological materials, is now protected under two patent families and associated know-how.

The HPA technology should enable the polio vaccine to be manufactured in developing countries, to be cheaper to make and affordable for mass vaccination in developing countries.

The polio licensing agreement, and such future licensing agreements, allows the HPA to contribute to global polio eradication while securing commitment from a major company in order to develop the use of its unique technology.

The terms include certain milestones and tiered royalty payments to the HPA in return for technology transfer and other licensing rights.

Dr David Rhodes, head of business development at HPA, said: “Polio in the UK is a disease of the past thanks to an effective and highly successful immunisation programme. However, it is still a danger to millions of children in countries where the disease has not yet been eradicated, and can cause paralysis and even death.
As there is no cure for polio it is important to prevent it from occurring through vaccination.

“This new technology provides a unique opportunity for developing countries that have the capability to use this new technology to manufacture polio vaccines which will make an incredible impact on global public health.”


Notes to editors

1. Polio no longer exists naturally in the UK, largely because of our vaccination programme. Polio is prevented by the DTaP/IPV/Hib (five-in-one) vaccine [external link], which also protects against the following illnesses:

  • Diphtheria [external link] – this potentially fatal bacterial infection affects the nose, throat and windpipe.
  • Tetanus [external link] – this bacterial infection enters the body through a cut or wound and releases toxins into your body.
  • Whooping cough [external link] – this highly infectious illness is potentially fatal for young babies.
  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) [external link] – Hib is a type of infection that can cause a number of other illnesses, such as blood poisoning, meningitis and pneumonia.

2. Since 1998, no cases of polio have been reported in the UK. There are now only three countries in which the condition remains a serious problem. These are:

  • Nigeria
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan

3. The Health Protection Agency is an independent UK organisation that was set up by the government in 2003 to protect the public from threats to their health from infectious diseases and environmental hazards. In April 2013, subject to the usual approvals procedures for establishing new bodies, the Health Protection Agency will become part of a new organisation called Public Health England, an executive agency of the Department of Health. To find out more, visit our website: or follow us on Twitter @HPAuk or ‘Like’ us on Facebook at [external link]

4. NIBSC will become part of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on 1 April, 2013.

5. For more information please contact the national HPA press office at Colindale on 0208 327 7901 or email Out of hours the duty press officer can be contacted on 0208 200 4400.


Last reviewed: 28 March 2013