Partnership will develop a vaccine against Ebola.

Medicago entered into a research collaboration agreement with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) for the development of a plant-based virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine candidate for the prevention of ebola.

“Our expertise in the development of VLP vaccines using our transient expression system coupled with USAMRIID’s experience and knowledge creates an ideal combination for the rapid development of a new generation of efficacious and competitive VLP vaccines,” states Louis Vezina, Medicago’s CSO.

Medicago is using its plant-based technology to develop VLP vaccine candidates designed to protect against pandemic and seasonal influenza, using a transient expression system that produces recombinant vaccine antigens in nontransgenic plants. VLPs consist of  protein shells studded with short strands of the proteins specific to whatever disease the vaccine is intended to control.

VLPs are made to look like a virus, allowing them to be recognized readily by the body’s immune system, however, they lack the core genetic material, making them noninfectious and unable to replicate.VLP-based vaccines have also shown to provide protection against different strains of a virus other than those for which the vaccine was formulated.

Unlike current influenza vaccines that are manufactured with an inactivated virus, VLP-based vaccines do no require an actual sample of the virus, they simply require the genetic sequence of the virus or bacteria. The company says its technology has potential to offer advantages of speed and cost over competitive technologies.

Medicago says that it remains on track to report final Phase II trial results for its H5N1 vaccine candidate this quarter along with U.S. Phase I trial results for its seasonal flu vaccine candidate. “We are currently working on several other important infectious disease targets outside of influenza,” Vezina said. To that end, last month Medicago announced it entered a research collaboration with an undisclosed company to develop a VLP vaccine against a non-flu target that Medicago has also declined to reveal.

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