18 October 2004 00:01 [Source: ICB Americas]
Raising its profile in the vaccine manufacturing sector, UK-based Avecia scored a $50.7 million contract from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop a new recombinant protein vaccine for the plague. The contract, scheduled for completion in 2007, calls for production of 2,000 doses and includes an option to conduct Phase II clinical trials.
The vaccine was initially developed by Avecia in close collaboration with the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) in the UK. Dstl created the new vaccine to protect against bubonic and pneumonic plague. The new product does not utilize the plague organism in the manufacturing process and, therefore, infection cannot be caused by the production process, Avecia notes.
The NIAID contract reflects Avecia’s strength in vaccine development and production technology, says Jeremy Scudamore, Avecia’s CEO. Although the company has a certain anonymity in the vaccine manufacturing sector, it is a significant player in the specialized niche of defense vaccines.
“Outside the realms of military medicine and the Bioshield program, our name would probably not be so well known (yet),” remarks another company official. “The contract we’ve just announced is, essentially, a product development and trials program, with some manufacturing, albeit a program where there’s a good deal of confidence about the candidate vaccine. In a similar way to the anthrax vaccine contracts, this plague vaccine contract could lead to later manufacturing deals.”
Avecia will manufacture vaccine for trials in its new biologicals facility in Billingham, UK. The facility will be fully completed in 2005 with 40,000 liters capacity for microbially-derived biologics.
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