Acambis Wins $9.2 Million U.S. Government Contract to Develop MVA Vaccine

CAMBRIDGE, England, and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Acambis plc announces that its U.S. subsidiary, Acambis Inc., has been awarded a $9.2 million contract by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, to develop a new Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA) vaccine.

MVA is a weakened form of the current generation of smallpox vaccines and, as such, should allow the safe inoculation of at-risk people with weakened immune systems, who would otherwise be unable to be vaccinated against smallpox.

The contract requires Acambis to develop a new MVA vaccine, deliver several thousand doses of the vaccine to NIAID and conduct a Phase I clinical trial in healthy adults. The contract is structured on a "cost plus fixed fee" basis. For this contract, Acambis has partnered with Baxter Healthcare Corporation, its major shareholder and strategic partner. Acambis is acting as the prime contractor and Baxter as sub-contractor, leveraging each other's strengths and capabilities. Acambis expects to hold the exclusive commercial rights to the MVA vaccine.

The NIAID can award additional funds under the contract for expanded Phase II clinical trials in healthy adults and Phase I and Phase II studies in "at risk" populations. The estimated value of Acambis undertaking the work required by this additional element is $26.5m.

In addition, the U.S. government has declared its intention to stockpile MVA vaccine. The NIAID plans to issue a Request for Proposals for the production of up to 30 million doses of MVA vaccine constituting the U.S. government's stockpile for emergency use.

Under contracts dating from September 2000 and November 2001, Acambis is also producing smallpox vaccine for the U.S. government as part of a program to produce a stockpile sufficient to provide a dose for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Acambis CEO Dr John Brown said: "We recognize the importance of MVA as a product that complements our existing smallpox vaccine. With the addition of MVA to our ACAM2000 vaccine, we have established a vaccine franchise that enables us to offer governments the package of products they need to protect all their people against smallpox. Winning this first contract puts us in a great position to tender for the second contract to supply the U.S. government's MVA stockpile."

Source: Acambis plc