Medicago's H5N1 VLP Vaccine Provides Protection Against Multiple Strains of Avian Flu
Medicago Inc. today announced that its H5N1 Avian Influenza VLP vaccine ("H5N1 VLP vaccine"), made from the Indonesian strain, provided 100% protection in mice against a lethal challenge with live H5N1 viruses of the Vietnam strain. Including these results, the Company has now established that its lead H5N1 VLP vaccine has the potential to protect against three of the deadliest strains of pandemic influenza. In earlier studies, the Company demonstrated that its vaccine provides 100% cross-protection in mice against an influenza strain from Turkey.
"These preclinical results represent in our opinion a significant breakthrough in the development of our pandemic influenza vaccine," said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago. "An influenza vaccine that provides cross-protection against multiple strains is important for addressing a pandemic threat as it enhances chances of broader spectrum coverage."
In this study, mice were vaccinated with a range of doses of the Company's VLP vaccine made from an Indonesian strain of H5N1 Avian Influenza. During the experiment, 100% of the vaccinated mice survived, while 100% of the control group died. The mice were challenged 80 days after vaccination with a live H5N1 strain from Vietnam. Results showed that mice vaccinated with Medicago's H5N1 VLP vaccine were fully protected from illness and subsequent death even at the low dose of 0.5 microgram.
"We believe these results significantly enhance the value of our H5N1 VLP vaccine. We expect to initiate studies in ferrets in the coming weeks and look forward to taking this new vaccine candidate into clinical trials in early 2009," said Nathalie Landry, Medicago's VP Product Development.
The study was conducted in Lyon, France at the P4 Laboratory Jean Merieux - Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale ("INSERM"), a unique, high security research centre for studying highly pathogenic viruses. The study was performed in collaboration with Dr Herve Raoul, Director of the P4 Laboratory Jean Merieux-INSERM, Dr. Vincent Lotteau, Immunologist at INSERM, Professor Bruno Lina from Lyon University and Dr. Eric Quemeneur, Head of Biochemistry and Nuclear Toxicology at the French Atomic Energy Commission.
About Medicago Inc.
Medicago is committed to provide highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary Virus-Like Particle (VLP) and manufacturing technologies. Medicago is developing VLP vaccines to protect against H5N1 pandemic influenza, using a transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in non-transgenic plants. This technology has potential to offer advantages of speed and cost over competitive technologies. It could deliver a vaccine for testing in about a month after the identification and reception of genetic sequences from a pandemic strain. This production time frame has the potential to allow vaccination of the population before the first wave of a pandemic strikes and to supply large volumes of vaccine antigens to the world market. Additional information about Medicago is available at www.medicago.com
This press release contains forward-looking statements which reflect the Company's current expectations regarding future events. The forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ materially from those projected herein. The Company disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.
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