Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), today announced that it was included in a report of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology entitled "Report to the President on Reengineering the Influenza Vaccine Production Enterprise to Meet the Challenges of Pandemic Influenza", which was released earlier this month. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other public health officials held a briefing to discuss this report and the $2 billion plan to accelerate the development of drugs and vaccines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The report examined the importance to the U.S.A. of more rapidly and reliably producing effective vaccines, at a sufficient scale to protect all U.S. residents, in response to the emergence of pandemic influenza. The report stated, "Protecting the nation from an influenza pandemic...requires tightening the schedule for making vaccine substantially: in a serious pandemic, saving weeks could translate into saving tens of thousands of lives." Medicago was notably mentioned as an example of a recombinant influenza vaccine technology in clinical development.
"We are thrilled to be identified by the President's top scientific advisors as advancing the development of a recombinant vaccine technology that offers speed and cost advantages over the current method," said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago.
The U.S. government's new initiative supports the development, clinical testing, and approval of influenza vaccines made using recombinant DNA technology. The investment strategy allows for flexibility in financing of promising vaccine production platforms, and creates downstream incentives for products that meet the target product profile and production criteria. In particular, the plan recommends that the federal government:
- Establish a recombinant influenza vaccine initiative - Develop an investment strategy that allows co-financing of promising vaccine production platforms - Establish federal policy for the use of recombinant influenza vaccines in seasonal influenza campaigns and during a pandemic, once they have been proven to be safe and efficacious
"Our recombinant technology fits perfectly in line with this initiative and we believe that we are well positioned to play a prominent role in the $2 billion preparedness plan being set forth by the U.S government. We believe our recombinant plant-based VLP technology, capable of rapidly producing highly-scalable, cost-effective vaccine supplies, will enhance the U.S. defense against the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases," added Mr. Sheldon.