Pfizer Inc. has acquired a controlling interest in Switzerland's Redvax GmbH, the company announced Monday.

Redvax is a spin-off from Swiss biopharmaceutical company Redbiotec AG. It develops multi-component virus-like particles (VLPs) and other protein assemblies for vaccine development in the field of human cytomegalovirus (CMV) and a further undisclosed field.

Pfizer said that this acquisition provides access to a preclinical CMV vaccine candidate, as well as intellectual property and a technology platform related to a second, undisclosed vaccine program.

CMV is a herpes virus that infects 50-90 percent of adults, most of whom show no symptoms. Women are at high risk of CMV infection during pregnancy and of passing the infection on to the unborn child, potentially causing hearing loss or neurological disorders.

In the United States, about 5,000 children each year develop lasting health problems caused by CMV.

"We are working to bring innovative vaccines to market that prevent and treat serious diseases," commented Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief scientific officer for Vaccine Research and Early Development at Pfizer. "Through the acquisition of the Redvax innovative CMV vaccine platform and expertise we will seek to develop a vaccine to prevent a difficult disease that can have a devastating and lifelong impact on young children."

The deal was also welcomed by Christian Schaub, CEO of Redbiotec and managing director of Redvax, who said that it represents an important step toward the development of a vaccine for CMV.