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European Expert Consortium Combines Forces to Develop a Novel Pandemic Influenza Vaccine

BOXMEER, The Netherlands, September 26 /PRNewswire/ -- A consortium of experts in the field of human virus research and vaccine development have joined forces to develop a novel pandemic influenza vaccine as a potential emergency vaccination. The four-year project has been awarded a grant of EUR3.5 million from the European Union to help fund the research and the development of the new vaccine. The so-called FluVac project will be coordinated by Nobilon International BV which is part of Organon, the human healthcare business unit of Akzo Nobel.

The recent epidemic of a new pathogenic strain of H5N1 influenza in birds in Asia has fuelled further concerns about a potential pandemic influenza outbreak. In the event of an influenza pandemic, large quantities of a highly effective vaccine will be needed on short notice. A European consortium consisting of Nobilon International BV (the Netherlands), Protherics PLC (United Kingdom), Retroscreen Virology Ltd (United Kingdom), Erasmus Medical Centre (the Netherlands) and Landspitali University Hospital (Iceland) has agreed to collaborate on the development of such a vaccine. The collaboration takes advantage of complementary expertise and technology of these renowned parties.

Non-clinical studies with a novel H5N1 vaccine developed by Nobilon and containing CoVaccine HT(TM), a powerful adjuvant from Protherics, have produced encouraging results to date. This has resulted in the successful application of an EU grant to develop this promising vaccine through proof-of-concept in phase I and II clinical trials. Upon successful achievement of proof-of-concept, the consortium intends to pursue further clinical development.

Dr. Luuk Hilgers, scientific coordinator for the project on behalf of Nobilon, stated: "In the event of an influenza pandemic, vaccination will play a key role in its control. Therefore, availability of a sufficient number of vaccine doses will be critical. In this project, we will exploit the potency of the adjuvant to potentiate immunity and to reduce the antigen dose required per vaccination."

About Nobilon

Nobilon International BV, part of Organon, a biopharmaceutical business unit of Akzo Nobel, was founded in 2003. It has production and R&D facilities in Boxmeer and Oss, the Netherlands. The biotechnology company is dedicated to develop, produce and market human vaccines against infectious diseases, building on existing expertise within sister companies Intervet and Organon. Nobilon focuses on respiratory and traveler's diseases. One of its core expertises is large scale cell culture production of viruses, including influenza. Nobilon currently employs approximately 75 staff in production and R&D.

Safe Harbor Statement(*)

This press release may contain statements which address such key issues as growth strategy, future financial results, market positions, product development, pharmaceutical products in the pipeline, and product approvals of Organon. Such statements should be carefully considered, and it should be understood that many factors could cause forecasted and actual results to differ from these statements. These factors include, but are not limited to, price fluctuations, currency fluctuations, progress of drug development, clinical testing and regulatory approval, developments in raw material and personnel costs, pensions, physical and environmental risks, legal issues, and legislative, fiscal, and other regulatory measures. Stated competitive positions are based on management estimates supported by information provided by specialized external agencies. For a more comprehensive discussion of the risk factors affecting our business please see our Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, a copy of which can be found on the company's corporate website

(*) Pursuant to the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act 1995.

SOURCE N.V. Organon
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