From West Nile to Spinoffs
When West Nile virus threatened the survival of endangered condors in California, Aldevron was contracted to manufacture a DNA vaccine developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We had production and quality control systems in place that allowed us to manufacture the vaccine in less than two months,” Chambers says. He notes that the vaccine has also been used to protect other endangered species against West Nile virus. This opportunity helped to steer Aldevron into the production of plasmid DNA for clinical trials.
The biomanufacturing services offered by Aldevron fill a variety of needs. Some clients need 10,000 DNA preparations that are one milligram in size, explains Chambers, while others need 100 grams of a single plasmid. He says that Altravax relies on Aldevron to manufacture clinical-grade DNA materials in a streamlined and economic process. Altravax tests multiple vaccine candidates simultaneously to quickly identify the best ones.
Aldevron is currently producing multiple plasmids to support Altravax’ hepatitis B, HIV, and influenza vaccine programs. Altravax also uses Aldevron’s GIA service to screen the thousands of vaccine candidates created through its Molecular Breeding™ technology, Chambers says.
Other companies contract with Aldevron to manufacture control plasmids for use in FDA-approved molecular diagnostic kits or standards for GMP processes and quality control. “We serve the pharmaceutical industry, diagnostic markets, government institutions, and academic researchers,” says Foti.
Chambers says that Aldevron will soon launch its first spinoff company. Researchers at Genovac discovered an antibody that blocks hepatitis C virus infection through a novel mechanism, and workers there are starting a new company built around the technology. “We originally wanted to use profits from contract services to fund the development of new vaccines and therapeutics, and it’s finally playing out.”
Aldevron also started Plasmid.com, which is designed to eliminate routine benchwork associated with processing plasmid maxi-prep kits. The service features a simple website interface and serves as a vitual kit, Chambers asserts. Clients send their plasmid to Aldevron at room temperature, and the sample is scaled up and returned to the client. Chambers says that Plasmid.com is inexpensive, and clients invest no more than 10 minutes of hands-on time. “It’s streamlined and environmentally friendly because it uses less plastic and glassware.”
In addition to supporting its own spinoffs, Aldevron has helped raise $30 million to help its clients expand programs or start related companies. “We take a highly collaborative approach to helping our clients succeed, because we base our success on our client’s success,” says Chambers.