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GlaxoSmithKline could bring malaria drug to Barnard Castle plant
A DRUGS firm could bring a revolutionary wonder vaccine to the North-East.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is working on a malaria treatment to protect children and babies, which could be available by 2015.
The company employs more than 1,000 workers at its plant in Barnard Castle, County Durham, who could play a key role in the development and production of the drug after previously making 130 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine to treat swine flu.
Bosses last night cooled the link, saying a lot of work was still needed to develop the drug, with any decision over which location would make the vaccine still to be made.
The firm has been developing its work on malaria treatment for decades, and two years ago revealed a trial had halved the number of cases in young children between five-years-old and 17 months.
It plans to submit the vaccine to EU regulators next year after the World Health Organisation confirmed a policy recommendation for the vaccine could be made by 2015.
The mosquito-borne disease kills about 660,000 people every year, many of them children in Africa.
Sir Andrew Witty, GSK chief executive, said: “While we have seen some decline in vaccine efficacy over time, the sheer number of children affected by malaria means that the number of cases of the disease the vaccine can help prevent is impressive.
“This data supports our decision to submit an application for the vaccine candidate which, if successful, would bring us a step closer to having an additional tool to fight this deadly disease.”
Earlier this year, GSK, whose Barnard Castle factory is its skin division headquarters, reiterated its commitment to the region by investing £20m into a new dermatology centre.
It also revealed £32m plans to develop advanced electronic implants to treat diseases, working with Californian-based SetPoint Medical on an implant to stimulate neck nerves linked to the immune system.
The company recently sold its Lucozade and Ribena drinks division for £1.35bn to Suntory Beverage and Foods to expand its healthcare sector.
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