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GEN News Highlights : Oct 10, 2006

Pfizer Breaks into the DNA-based Vaccine Market

Acquisition of PowderMed adds to company’s pipeline.
Pfizer acquired PowderMed, a privately held U.K. company specializing in DNA-based vaccines with a pipeline of influenza and viral diseases. “This acquisition is a strategic opportunity to enter the vaccine market,” points out Jeffrey B. Kindler, CEO, Pfizer.

“With PowderMed’s novel DNA technology and its portfolio of early-stage vaccine candidates,” adds David Shedlarz, vice chairman of Pfizer, “we are adding high-potential, externally sourced product candidates and technologies to our research and development portfolio.”

Pfizer believes that PowderMed’s DNA-based platform could circumvent the challenges of egg- and cell-based vaccine technology. “While the research is at an early stage, DNA-based vaccines may be the next major innovation against the threat of influenza and other chronic viral diseases,” says John LaMattina, Ph.D., president, Pfizer global research and development. “PowderMed’s technology may lead to new vaccines that are easier to use and store than current vaccines and may have the advantage of being more quickly adaptable to changing strains of influenza.”

PowderMed’s vaccine development program is centered on its Particle Mediated Epidermal Delivery (PMED) technology, a needle-free delivery system that delivers DNA-coated microscopic gold particles into the skin using pressurized helium gas, triggering an immune response.

PMED vaccines have been shown to evoke antibody- and cell-mediated immune responses, which could lead to improved efficacy compared to traditional vaccines, according to Pfizer.

PowderMed’s most advanced candidate is entering Phase II trials for seasonal flu. The company’s pipeline also includes vaccines in Phase I development for herpes simplex virus and chronic hepatitis B and a preclinical study on genital warts. This transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2006.