Medicago, a biotech out of Quebec City Canada that is expecting to enter clinical trials with an avian flu vaccine this year, has just announced, only 14 days after receiving the DNA sequence for the influenza A (H1N1) virus, positive results on an immunogenicity study in mice. Results demonstrated that the Company’s H1 VLP vaccine induced a positive immune response in mice against the H1N1 influenza virus, also know as swine flu.
Medicago is a biotechnology company focused on developing highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs). They are developing proprietary technologies called the VLP vaccine technology and the Proficia(TM) manufacturing technology.
Most influenza vaccines are made using eggs as a medium, but Medicago started experimenting with using tobacco plants as a medium to create vaccines. The tobacco plant offers a less expensive way to produce vaccines faster. In the process they are developing, a common bacterium is injected into tobacco and proteins are harvested from the plant’s leaves. It takes 4 weeks to generate a vaccine in tobacco compared to roughly 8 months with an egg. Given the startling new results on the creation of a vaccine for mice for H1N1 influenza virus in just 14 days, Medicago is advancing their own technology beyond what was discussed just months ago.
“These results, coupled with the speed of production of this new vaccine candidate, demonstrate that once approved, our plant-based VLP vaccine technology could be an effective approach against pandemic influenza,” said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago. “With our lead H5N1 vaccine candidate expected to commence human trials in the third quarter of this year, we look forward to delivering additional encouraging results and further confirming the potential of our proprietary technologies.”
The global vaccine market is said to be around 10 billion and is expected to grow to over 40 billion by 2015. If successful Medicago intends to expand to making vaccines for malaria, HIV, and other diseases. Medicago’s avian flu vaccine is targeted to go on the market by 2011 pending successful clinical trials. The vaccine for H1N1 influenza virus is just in its early stages.
Medicago has over 20 PHDs on the company’s staff and over 130 patents. Their web site elaborates, “ To face pandemic and seasonal vaccine supply challenges, Medicago has developed a proprietary transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in the cells of non-transgenic plants.” The company founder, Dr. Louis-Philippe Vezina, was a researcher at Agrifood