VANCOUVER -- ID Biomedical Corporation announced that it has begun development of an experimental (mock) vaccine against a strain of the influenza virus, H5N1, that experts believe could cause a deadly worldwide epidemic (pandemic) of influenza. The H5N1 strain is a new strain of influenza virus that humans have little or no resistance to and has resulted in high rates of illness and death. ID Biomedicals development efforts will concentrate on creating a vaccine using a genetically modified variant of the H5N1 strain.
Since January 2004, sporadic outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird (avian) influenza caused by an H5N1 influenza strain have occurred in
ID Biomedical has obtained the genetically modified rH5N1 reference strain from the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) in the U.K. NIBSC is one of the few World Health Organization (WHO) selected laboratories in the world, which conducts experimental work aimed at producing pandemic reference strains for potential vaccine production.
The reverse genetics technology used by NIBSC allows the rH5N1 strain to be grown in chicken eggs, an important source of influenza vaccine production. Typically, because of their virulence, pandemic avian strains kill eggs, therefore making it impossible to produce a vaccine from this source. The genetic modification of the virus also weakens its virulence so that it is no more dangerous than the influenza strains used by manufacturers during annual influenza production.
The initial objective of the companys development program is to optimize the conditions under which the rH5N1 virus grows in eggs and to develop a virus seed bank for future vaccine production. The work will be conducted by ID Biomedical at its
The successful completion of this development program will position
In October 2001, the company announced that it had signed a 10-year contract with the Canadian Government to assure a state of readiness in case of an influenza pandemic. The contract requires that ID Biomedical develop the infrastructure and capacity, in
Source: ID Biomedical