Medicago could receive another C$30 million for the development of a rotavirus vaccine.

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) is paying Medicago C$3 million up front in a vaccine research agreement. The aim is to develop and commercialize at least three new vaccines, with MTPC providing funding for all R&D work.

Medicago will be eligible to receive up to a total of C$30 million in milestone payments as well as royalties on future sales. Work on an RLP vaccine target will begin immediately, and additional targets under this master agreement are to be selected by the parties at a later date. MTPC has the option to license an RLP vaccine target.

Medicago has developed a plant-based vaccine technology called Proficia™. Compared with traditional egg-based and cell production systems, plants are uniquely capable of efficient protein expression of different complexity levels and glycosylation patterns at high yields and low costs, the company reports. Greenhouse-based manufacturing facility conditions can be quickly built for rapid and economic scale-up in order to meet market demands, Medicago adds.

Proficia has been developed and optimized for use with Nicotiana benthamiana, a relative of the tobacco plant. The leaves of these plants are well suited to rapidly incorporate, in a nonpermanent fashion, the genetic information required to produce high yields of virus-like particles, Medicago explains.

Due to the extensive experience accumulated on tobacco cultivation, scale-up and maintenance costs are relatively low, the firm points out. Additionally, since fully grown plants are used, crop development steps are unnecessary. By using plants in general, costs associated with infrastructure and raw materials are lower, and the risk of viral contaminants from animal sources is substantially reduced, according to Medicago.

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