April 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical said on Wednesday it had completed enrolment for a 20,000-subject dengue vaccine trial, the largest clinical study in its history, signalling the global ambitions of its vaccine business.
Japan's largest drugmaker has taken a conscious decision to become more international under its French CEO Christophe Weber, who took over in 2015.
The international dengue study will test the experimental vaccine on 20,100 children and adolescents in eight countries in Latin America and Asia where the mosquito-borne disease is endemic. Initial results are expected in 2018.
Dengue kills about 20,000 people per year and infects hundreds of millions, and the virus is becoming much more prevalent and widespread.
Sanofi already has a dengue vaccine on the market, called Dengvaxia, but the French drugmaker's product is not perfect and did not protect equally against the four different serotypes of dengue in clinical tests.
As a result, academic researchers and rival manufacturers are continuing to work towards better vaccines. Takeda’s shot produced promising results against four dengue strains in earlier smaller studies.
Last November, Takeda announced it would invest more than 100 million euros ($107 million) to build a new manufacturing plant for its dengue vaccine candidate in Singen, Germany. ($1 = 0.9362 euros) (Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)