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GEN News Highlights : Feb 23, 2012

Merck & Co. Licenses Protein Sciences’ Insect Cell Vaccine Production Platform

Deal includes exclusive rights to use PS platform for commercial production of designated vaccine.

Merck & Co. negotiated nonexclusive rights to Protein Sciences’ expresSF+® serum-free insect cell line (SF+) and related technology for vaccine research, and an exclusive license to use the overall PS platform for commercial production of a specific vaccine candidate.

Protein Sciences is exploiting its PS technology, based on baculovirus expression system (BEVS) and expresSF+ cell line, for the development of vaccines and biopharmaceuticals against a range of diseases. The firm’s lead product, FluBlok, is an insect cell culture-produced recombinant trivalent vaccine for seasonal influenza, which is currently undergoing regulatory review in the U.S. In 2009 the firm was awarded a $147 million five-year contract by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to further develop its technology for the production of recombinant influenza vaccines for pandemic stockpiling.The PanBlok pandemic influenza vaccine candidate is undergoing Phase II evaluation. Also in Phase II development is FluNhance, a recombinant neuraminidase (rNA) candidate designed to boost the efficacy of flu vaccines. Protein Sciences’ severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) candidate D3252 is expected to start in Phase I clinical development during 2012.

The PS platform uses engineered baculoviruses to generate recombinant proteins in the expresSF+ insect cell line. Protein Sciences claims the platform is fast, low cost, results in correctly folded and biologically active proteins, and is scalable to large volumes and high cell densities. The BEVS technology has already been applied to the development of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines against infectious viruses, biodefense applications, cancer, and diabetes, as well as rAAV-based gene therapy products for lipid and CNS disorders, and biologics for wound/tissue repair, viral infections, and inflammatory diseases.