The two companies have signed a collaboration agreement to achieve just this dream, with GE Healthcare providing bioprocess solutions based on the company's ReadyToProcess portfolio, and Novavax, its virus-like particle (VLP) and manufacturing platform. The aim includes enabling vaccine production facility commissioning in half the time of a traditional egg-based facility and manufacturing pandemic influenza vaccines within 12 weeks of strain isolation. "This collaboration is a great first example of GE Healthcare realising its strategy of enabling affordable and safe vaccine production for countries that need to better prepare for emerging infectious diseases," GE Healthcare Life Sciences president and chief executive Peter Ehrenheim said. Novavax president and chief executive Rahul Singhvi said: "This collaboration is a critical milestone in addressing one of the most pressing global healthcare issues of the 21st Century. We believe the combination of these technologies will enable the creation of a country's rapid response supply and self-efficiency in pandemic flu vaccine." Novavax' VLP technology involves building a structure like a virus but without the genetic material required for viral replication. The VLP works by attaching to cells and triggering an immune response. The US-based company has developed a VLP-based H5N1 pandemic flu vaccine which is currently in Phase I/IIa clinical trials. The vaccine is manufactured using cell-culture, removing the limitations associated with traditional egg-based techniques, and does not use a live virus. The use of cell-culture should also speed up the manufacturing process with recombinant vaccines being produced within 12 weeks of a pandemic strain being identified, according to Novavax. UK-based GE Healthcare launched its ReadyToProcess portfolio in October, which consists of a range of ready-to-use systems and devices for the biopharmaceutical industry which have been designed to increase speed, simplicity and safety for all areas of bioprocessing. The portfolio covers bio fermentation, mixing, connectivity, chromatography, filtration, buffer preparation, sensing and storage solutions, with further phased launches scheduled up till 2009. Features currently include disposable Wave technologies which remove hours of cleaning and preparation in cell culture, and improving the environment for gentle, consistent mixing. Newly-developed filtration technologies are also available with chromatography tools coming soon. In a statement, the companies said: "The intention is that [the collaboration] could enable commissioning of a new facility from scratch in approximately two and a-half years, half the time of traditional egg-based vaccine production facility, and at a potential capital reduction of approximately 60 per cent." The terms of the agreement and what countries were being targeted by the companies were not disclosed.