* No financial details given
* Crucell, GSK aim to start human clinical studies
* Seeking third-party funding
AMSTERDAM, April 6 (Reuters) - Dutch biotechnology firm Crucell CRCL.ASCRXL.O said on Tuesday it had agreed with Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) to jointly develop a malaria vaccine candidate, without disclosing financial details.
The deal is an extension to an earlier programme agreed in October 2003 between Crucell, GSK and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research to evaluate Crucell’s malaria vaccine candidate in pre-clinical studies.
Crucell said on Tuesday pre-clinical data indicated greatly enhanced immune responses against the malaria parasite when Crucell’s Adenovirus technology and GSK’s RTS,S/AS technology are used in combination, versus either component alone.
“I am confident a partnership of this kind will allow us to take a vital step towards our goal of bringing meaningful innovation to global health,” Crucell Chief Executive Ronald Brus said in a statement.
The companies aim to start human clinical studies and seek third-party funding to advance the programme into a phase I/IIa clinical challenge trial in the United States.
Pending the results of the trial, the companies expect to advance the candidate in further clinical studies with the support of public or non-profit partners.
Malaria is one of the top three killers in the world and is one of the most prevalent infections in tropical and subtropical areas, causing close to 900,000 annual deaths, mostly children. (Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block; Editing by Erica Billingham)