Marcel Thalen

Iliad Biotechnologies, Scotland

Title: Development of a truly improved whooping cough vaccine


Marcel Thalen is employed by Iliad Biotechnologies as General Manager International Operations since June 2014. Before working for Iliad, Marcel worked as Scientific Officer/BD manager for 8 years at SynCo Bio Partners, a leading Contract Manufacturing Organisation. At SynCo Marcel introduced the production of live biologicals, i.e. where the Drug Substance is a living organism. Before that, Marcel worked for the Netherlands Vaccine Institute for 14 years in several positions, the last position being head of Process Development. His main area of interest is USP and lyophilization, focusing on cell density and/or virulence of a variety of pathogens, Bordetella pertussis in particular. This life-long interest in B. pertussis lead him to join Iliad Biotechnologies, a clinical stage biotech company focused on the development of a much needed, truly improved pertussis vaccine that can potentially eradicate pertussis.


In general the high pediatric vaccination coverage has largely eradicated most of these infectious diseases in the western world, with one exception: whooping cough or pertussis. Ever since the late 80's, the incidence of whooping cough has been rising and it is clear that while current a cellular vaccines protect against severe disease, these vaccines do not prevent carriage and transmission. Though classified as a childhood disease, pertussis occurs frequently in adolescents and adults. This means that un vaccinated, new born infants can be infected not just by siblings but also by parents, family and friends. This presentation focuses on identifying what the characteristics of an improved vaccine should be, followed by an evaluation of the various approaches to achieve these characteristics, using ambition level, cost constraints and time to market as guiding parameters.