Canadian company to develop cell-cultured flu vaccine

Oct 1, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a $9.5 million grant to a Canadian firm that aims to develop an influenza vaccine that doesn't rely on eggs.

ID Biomedical of Vancouver, BC, announced on Sep 29 that it will use the grant to develop its cell culture–based influenza vaccine. Creating an alternative to the classic egg-based manufacturing process could speed development of vaccine, possibly improve vaccine effectiveness, and allow people with egg allergies to be vaccinated, according to a company press release.

Shortened development time could prove very important in event of a flu pandemic, which is a growing concern with the spread of H5N1 avian influenza in Asia. The NIH grant will allow ID Biomedical to hold early-stage human trials of the new form of influenza vaccine.

ID Biomedical's Senior Vice President of Development Dr. Ronald Ellis said in the release, "We had shown a few years ago that our cell-derived vaccine manufactured by a prototype process was comparable in terms of safety and immunogenicity to our licensed egg-derived vaccine, Fluviral(R). This NIH grant enables IDB to continue this development toward a commercial process that should produce a vaccine with a safety and immunogenicity profile that fully meets the requirements for any influenza vaccine. Moreover, the grant also enables the development of and manufacturing process for a pandemic vaccine, should one be needed."

The new technology could let scientists grow a pandemic avian viral strain that might be harmful to eggs. As explained in the release, "There is currently a potential barrier to grow avian strains in eggs, since they have the potential to destroy the eggs."

The flu vaccine program at ID Biomedical will include development of injectable and intranasal influenza vaccines based on its cell-culture production technology.

ID Biomedical supplies over 75% of influenza vaccine to the Canadian public market.

See also:

ID Biomedical press release
http://www.bctechnology.com/scripts/display_news.cfm?id=19256

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