Microscience to Work with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center on New Oral Anthrax Vaccine

LONDON, England -- With bioterrorism remaining a high priority for government on both sides of the Atlantic, it is timely for the UK-based biotechnology company Microscience to announce that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC). The collaboration will evaluate pre-clinically what Microscience believe will be the first oral anthrax vaccine to enter human testing.

Under the CRADA, Microscience will provide its proprietary spi-VEC delivery system which has been engineered to deliver anthrax antigens, either as protein or DNA, via an oral route. Dr Les Baillie will evaluate a number of vaccine candidates using key models of efficacy already developed at the NMRC's Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md.

Microscience believes that a novel oral anthrax vaccine, made possible by its spi-VEC delivery system, will offer significant advantages over the current U.S.-licensed vaccine and other second-generation injectable vaccines presently in development.

Because it is anticipated that the new vaccines will induce both systemic and mucosal immune responses it will effectively provide protection for the body's most vulnerable sites. These are lung, intestine and skin all of which are the most likely to be affected by anthrax spores in the event of a random terrorist attack. A further advantage of the new vaccines is the fact that they are likely to confer immunity within days following just one single dose. The current vaccine is approved as a course of six injections over an 18-month period.

Rod Richards, CEO of Microscience, said, "There is real synergy in this collaboration agreement and we are delighted to be working with NMRC. Additional proof of concept data, to support both the safety and efficacy of our vaccine candidates in the appropriate pre-clinical models, is likely to be achieved quickly. Microscience's objective is to develop the first oral anthrax vaccine in the shortest possible time."

Microscience is a private biotechnology company based in the UK. The company has a clinical development portfolio of five un-partnered human vaccines which include oral vaccines to protect against Typhoid (Phase II), Travellers Diarrhoea (Phase I) and a therapeutic vaccine for Hepatitis B (Phase I). Clinical trials for two injectable vaccines to protect against Meningitis B and neonatal Group B Streptococcus infections are due to report in 2004.

Source: Microscience Ltd

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