Indian Firm Develops Inexpensive Vaccine for Battle With Cholera

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Hilleman Laboratories Pvt., an Indian biotechnology non-profit, says it has developed an affordable and rugged cholera vaccine which could change how the battle with deadly disease is fought.

New Delhi-based Hilleman Laboratories Pvt. — which is backed by Merck MRK -0.29% & Co. and the Wellcome Trust charity — said Tuesday that it has created an inexpensive vaccine that can survive without refrigeration in the far-flung tropical villages where it is most needed.

Cholera kills over a hundred thousand people, mostly young children, and infects millions every year.

“Cholera is a huge public health burden,” said Hilleman Chief Executive Davinder Gill. “The disease is endemic in over 50 countries across the world but it especially huge in the subcontinent and especially in the Bengal delta.”

The vaccine is a dry power, capable of surviving temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius and is produced in a way which dramatically reduces the cost of manufacturing. One dose of the vaccine should eventually cost “significantly less than one U.S. dollar,” Mr. Gill said. He hopes to start clinical trials next year.

By Sean Mclain

Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

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