French vaccines startup Vaxxel has acquired Transgene’s DuckCelt T17 cell line to develop industrial-scale vaccines against respiratory viruses.

The deal makes Transgene a shareholder of Vaxxel; financial details of the deal are yet to be divulged.

Originally developed and patented by Transgene, DuckCelt-T17 is an avian cell line grown in suspension, permissive to different viruses, including influenza viruses and human metapneumoviruses.

The companies added that the cell line showed capability for industrial-scale use.

Vaxxel president Denis Cavert said: “We are very pleased with the closure of this agreement. It will allow us to continue developing our vaccines against respiratory viruses namely a monovalent vaccine against human metapneumovirus and a bivalent one against respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus.

“These vaccines would respond to a large unmet public health need worldwide. Both of these viruses are a major source of pneumonia and bronchiolitis for children under five years old and for adults above 65 years old.”

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According to current sales of a vaccine for the same population, the market potential for Vaxxel’s vaccines is expected to be more than 5bn.

Furthermore, Vaxxel anticipates to leverage Transgene’s expertise in developing and scaling up new biological products.

Transgene executive vice-president and chief scientific officer Eric Quéméneur said: “We are glad to valorize an asset such as our DuckCelt-T17 cell line with Vaxxel’s high potential projects.

“This operation materialises a substantial research work undertaken several years ago in order to select an avian line suitable for viral production at an industrial scale. This transfer demonstrated the large field of application of our technologies, aside from immuno-oncology.”

Last May, Transgene partnered with AstraZeneca to develop cancer drug candidates using genetically engineered vaccinia viruses.