Acambis to Collaborate With Cangene to Develop West Nile Hyperimmune Globulins

CAMBRIDGE, England and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Acambis plc announces that it has entered into a collaboration with Cangene Corporation to develop a hyperimmune globulin for prevention and treatment of West Nile virus disease.

The agreement brings together the vaccine Acambis is developing against West Nile, ChimeriVax-West Nile, and Cangene's capability in the development and manufacture of hyperimmune products. Hyperimmune globulins are highly purified antibodies produced from human plasma. A hyperimmune globulin against West Nile can be used to treat people who have become infected with the virus and to give immediate protection to immunocompromised individuals, such as the elderly, whose immune systems may not be able to generate a sufficient immune response.

Acambis and Cangene will both participate in the development work for the West Nile hyperimmune globulin and share the costs of funding the project. Acambis will make available to Cangene its ChimeriVax-West Nile vaccine, which will be used to vaccinate Cangene's plasma donors to generate the hyperimmune globulin against West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is a flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes. It was first identified in North America in 1999 when an outbreak in New York City and four states resulted in 62 cases and seven deaths. By the end of 2002, it had spread to a total of 44 states, resulting in 4,156 diagnosed cases and the death of 284 people. The first human cases were also identified in five Canadian provinces and the virus spread south into Mexico.

Acambis has developed its vaccine using its proprietary ChimeriVax technology and has recently filed an Investigational Drug Application with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to undertake a Phase I trial of its ChimeriVax-West Nile vaccine.

Dr John Brown, CEO of Acambis, said, "This collaboration is an ideal pairing of the West Nile vaccine that Acambis has developed with Cangene's technology and considerable expertise in the generation of hyperimmune products. This is an interesting opportunity to explore the potential for a product against West Nile that complements the vaccine we are currently developing and could enable us to provide protection for as wide a range of people as possible."

"West Nile spread across North America at an astonishing rate and has rapidly established itself as a public health concern," said Dr John Langstaff, president and CEO of Cangene. "With operations in Manitoba and Ontario, we are acutely aware of the threat of mosquito-borne infections and we believe that hyperimmune technology is well suited to meet the challenge."

Source: Acambis plc

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