Aventis and NIH Enter Into SARS Vaccine R&D Pact

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LYON, FRANCE -- Aventis has entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), to research and develop an inactivated virus vaccine against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Aventis Pasteur, the human vaccines business of Aventis, has agreed to develop a candidate vaccine using a similar approach to that of the currently licensed inactivated polio vaccine. The agreement was signed on Sept. 26, 2003.

"This is important research that could have an impact on public health throughout the world. We hope to be able to advance development of a SARS vaccine by putting to work the knowledge that Aventis Pasteur scientists have amassed in designing inactivated vaccines and the company's expertise in bringing them to market," said David J. Williams, chairman and chief executive officer of Aventis Pasteur. Williams said that the project will be an important initiative within the company's research agenda. However, he cautioned that it would be important to have realistic expectations on timelines.

"Even with our extensive experience in this area and an ambitious development timeline, it will likely take approximately two years before any candidate vaccine moves into clinical trials," he said.

The research will take place in company research and development facilities in France that have the necessary level of biological safety with contributions from Aventis Pasteur scientists in the U.S. and Canada.

This is the third significant activity against SARS undertaken by the company. Earlier this year, Aventis Pasteur donated its proprietary Vero Cell culture line to NIAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to speed up research. Aventis Pasteur is also participating in the Canadian SARS Research Consortium, a public-private effort to coordinate, promote and support research on SARS, including vaccine development.

Source: Aventis

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