* French firm links with International Vaccine Institute
* Sanofi’s new vaccine in Phase III, may be blockbuster
LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - France’s Sanofi-Aventis (SASY.PA) is partnering with an international vaccine group to speed the adoption of its experimental dengue fever vaccine, which is currently in late-stage development.
Sanofi and the International Vaccine Institute -- a Seoul-based organisation set up at the instigation of the United Nations Development Programme -- said on Monday they would work to raise awareness of dengue vaccination.
The mosquito-borne disease is a threat to nearly half of the world’s population. Of the estimated 220 million people infected each year, two million -- mostly children in Latin America and Asia -- develop a severe form called dengue hemorrhagic fever.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for dengue fever but Sanofi has the world’s most clinically advanced vaccine candidate, which entered Phase III clinical testing in Australia in November.
“With a dengue vaccine on the short term horizon, this collaboration will focus on accelerating its adoption and introduction and on making it accessible to those at highest risk of dengue,” Ragnar Norrby, chairman of IVI’s board of trustees, said in a statement.
The French drugmaker has said in the past that a vaccine against dengue fever could potentially generate sales of more than $1 billion a year. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Hans Peters) ($1=.7308 Euro)