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 · By Sanofi Admin

How Technology and Collaboration are Changing Vaccine Research

Harry KleanthousThis post was authored by Harry Kleanthous, Ph.D., Head of Discovery Research, North America, Sanofi Pasteur.

I came to Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, in 2008 when my previous company, Acambis, joined the Sanofi family after several years of joint venture partnerships. As I’ve always been committed to making a difference in the world through science, becoming part of Sanofi Pasteur really gave both me and Acambis an opportunity to broaden the impact that we could have on improving the health of people around the world. Our organizations’ missions also aligned well – Sanofi Pasteur’s vision is a world in which no one suffers or dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. By offering the broadest range of vaccines – and immunizing more than 500 million people each year – we are able to help contribute to that admirable goal.

Just as collaborations between Acambis and Sanofi Pasteur were successful, our new partnerships – both across Sanofi teams and with new external partners – are also vital to discovering and advancing new vaccines. This is true for both vaccines that target infectious diseases with a high medical need (like dengue fever), and potentially conditions not typically thought of as treatable with vaccines, such as cancer.

Having our Discovery scientists, external R&D and the Intellectual Property groups co-located in Cambridge, Mass., allows for easy partnerships with each other, as well as with world-class academic, medical and research institutions and innovative biopharmaceutical and technology companies in this rich ecosystem. This innovation network is accelerating our research efforts by bringing together the scientific expertise and creative thinking available across the Boston R&D Hub.

With a strong focus on upstream efforts and rational vaccine design, Discovery research has established a cutting-edge Bioinformatics Group, combining systems biology, genomics and  structural modeling to design next-generation vaccine candidates. Our state-of-the-art data studio also enables the sharing of complex, multidimensional information with project team members from multiple disciplines, giving us an edge by providing a three-dimensional visual approach to vaccine design and catalyzing innovative perspectives earlier in the R&D process.

As World Malaria Day passed a couple of months ago, I was reminded of the urgency and importance of bringing new vaccines to market. It also struck me that where there’s a will, there’s a way: In a mere seven years, we developed a new smallpox vaccine and delivered enough vaccine to the strategic national stockpile, enough vaccine for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

New vaccines hold the key to prevent, treat and cure diseases that continue to plaque people around the world. Dengue fever continues to threaten at least 2.5 billion people in tropical and sub-tropical regions; influenza affects five to 10 percent of the global population each season; and hospital-acquired infections are a serious public health concern in many industrialized countries. I am so proud to be a part of the great progress Sanofi Pasteur is making against these diseases and to know we will continue to increase our impact on health globally through the strength of our collaborative efforts and world-class science.

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