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GEN News Highlights : Jan 11, 2011

Medicago and IDRI Use DARPA Grant for Avian Flu Vaccine Development

Medicago’s H5 VLP vaccine will be combined with IDRI’s vaccine adjuvant technology and a microneedle delivery device.

Medicago was selected to collaborate with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) on a multimillion-dollar grant awarded to IDRI by DARPA. The grant is for the proposed development of a single-dose H5N1 influenza vaccine that could be rapidly and widely administered in the case of avian pandemic flu outbreak.

This grant is for a Phase I clinical trial with an intradermal H5 vaccine in combination with IDRI’s GLA adjuvant. The one-year project combines Medicago’s plant-made H5 virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine with IDRI’s vaccine adjuvant technology as well as a microneedle delivery device. These three technologies are hoped to enhance protection, reduce the amount of product required, and simplify vaccine distribution and administration.

“Medicago’s VLP plant-based vaccine technology is one of the most promising new technologies producing the next generation of vaccines. Their plant-based technology has already proven that it can produce emerging strains faster than conventional egg and cell based technologies,” said Darrick Carter, IDRI’s director of formulations and primary investigator on the grant.

“This research collaboration may provide unique solutions that make vaccination against influenza pandemics not only faster but with minimal dosing and greater ease of application,” adds Andy Sheldon, president and CEO of Medicago. “We continue to advance the clinical development of our H5 avian flu vaccine and expect to have Phase II interim results within the coming weeks.”