Oct 27 (Reuters) - Sanofi has struck a collaboration deal with a leading Brazilian research institute to speed development of a Zika vaccine, consolidating the French drugmaker's leading position in the race to defeat the mosquito-borne virus.
The deal with the Fiocruz public health centre follows a tie-up in July between Sanofi and a U.S. Army research institute, which gave the drugmaker access to one of the furthest advanced vaccines in development.
Sanofi said on Thursday that all three research organisations would now work together to "increase the likelihood of successfully developing and licensing a safe and effective Zika vaccine as quickly as possible".
The French company has taken pole position among major drugmakers in Zika vaccine research, reflecting its expertise in developing shots against other so-called flaviviruses, such as yellow fever, dengue and Japanese encephalitis.
In February, the World Health Organization declared a global public health emergency because of Zika's apparent link to microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small heads and serious developmental problems. That has galvanized efforts to speed up vaccine development. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Susan Fenton)