Emergex inks deal with VIC to bolster Saudi Arabia healthcare accessibility

Emergex has signed an MoU with the Vaccine Industrial Company (VIC) to advance its T-cell candidates against infectious diseases.

Millie Nelson, Editor

October 18, 2023

3 Min Read
Emergex inks deal with VIC to bolster Saudi Arabia healthcare accessibility

Emergex has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Vaccine Industrial Company (VIC) to advance its T-cell candidates against infectious diseases.

Emergex, a clinical-stage biotechnology company headquartered in the UK, said the collaboration will grant VIC – a Saudi Arabian firm that claims it is the first company aiming to construct a vaccine manufacturing facility in the country – the first rights to distribute potential licensed products and to fill/finish activities in Saudi Arabian territory.



“Emergex facilities have the capacity to generate a library of pathogen-derived peptides (protein fragments) and identify a set of 9-12 peptides to be delivered via the nanocluster carrier system,” an Emergex spokesperson told us.

“Emergex’s approach is designed to deliver fully synthetic viral peptides to antigen presenting cells, activating naïve T cells with specificity to a virus that are then expanded to a memory phenotype. With this process, production is designed to be relatively inexpensive with the potential for rapid manufacturing using a ‘plug and play’ approach, integrating a synthetic peptide set specific to the target RNA virus. As such, Emergex products are well suited for governments, philanthropists, and other pharmaceutical companies for distribution.”

Subject to government support of Phase II/III clinical trials of the aforementioned T cell-priming candidates, VIC plans to take an equity stake in Emergex. Additionally, VIC will have a Right of First Negotiation (ROFN) over Emergex’ candidates for the area. Furthermore, Emergex has said it will help with any technology transfers required.

“Currently, Saudi Arabia has an entirely nascent market in infectious disease solutions. Companies such as VIC have been recently established in Saudi Arabia to position itself and associated territories as a global hub for biotechnology. As such, Saudi Arabia is rapidly developing its capacity to facilitate serious initiatives to localize the biotechnology industry and harness novel technologies to address this,” said the spokesperson.

No specific financial details of the partnership have been disclosed, but it aims to provide health infrastructure within the region and supports Saudi Arabia’s goal of becoming a global biotech hub.

“Emergex and Saudi Arabia’s VIC intend to advance discussions following the signing of the MoU to formalise the parameters (scope and timelines) of the Collaboration Agreement in order to achieve the specified goals together,” the spokesperson said.

Investment in the Middle East

Saudi Arabia has been boosting its biomanufacturing capabilities to strengthen national resilience. In June, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) launched Lifera, a commercial-scale contract development manufacturing organization (CDMO) to grow Saudi Arabia’s local biopharmaceutical industry.

PIF is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia with a goal of making targeted investments and forging partnerships to bolster Saudi Arabia’s supply chain, skills, resource development, pharmaceutical products, job opportunities, and allow for technology transfer from global private sector partners.

One month later, CDMO Resilience inked a joint venture with Lifera to build a drug product manufacturing facility in Riyadh. Prior to this deal, Resilience stepped out of North America to build a facility in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

In November 2021, SaudiVax selected MilliporeSigma – the life sciences division of Germany’s Merck KGaA – to help design a Saudi-based facility to localize manufacturing of vaccines and biologics in the region. SaudiVax is expected to become the first developer and manufacturer of halal biotherapeutics and vaccines in Saudi Arabia.

About the Author(s)

Millie Nelson

Editor, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering global biopharmaceutical manufacturing and processing news and host of the Voices of Biotech podcast.

I am currently living and working in London but I grew up in Lincolnshire (UK) and studied in Newcastle (UK).

Got a story? Feel free to email me at [email protected]

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