QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ - Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), today announced that it was included in a report of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology entitled "Report to the President on Reengineering the Influenza Vaccine Production Enterprise to Meet the Challenges of Pandemic Influenza", which was released earlier this month. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other public health officials held a briefing to discuss this report and the $2 billion plan to accelerate the development of drugs and vaccines to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
The report examined the importance to the U.S.A. of more rapidly and reliably producing effective vaccines, at a sufficient scale to protect all U.S. residents, in response to the emergence of pandemic influenza. The report stated, "Protecting the nation from an influenza pandemic...requires tightening the schedule for making vaccine substantially: in a serious pandemic, saving weeks could translate into saving tens of thousands of lives." Medicago was notably mentioned as an example of a recombinant influenza vaccine technology in clinical development.
"We are thrilled to be identified by the President's top scientific advisors as advancing the development of a recombinant vaccine technology that offers speed and cost advantages over the current method," said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago.
The U.S. government's new initiative supports the development, clinical testing, and approval of influenza vaccines made using recombinant DNA technology. The investment strategy allows for flexibility in financing of promising vaccine production platforms, and creates downstream incentives for products that meet the target product profile and production criteria. In particular, the plan recommends that the federal government:
- Establish a recombinant influenza vaccine initiative - Develop an investment strategy that allows co-financing of promising vaccine production platforms - Establish federal policy for the use of recombinant influenza vaccines in seasonal influenza campaigns and during a pandemic, once they have been proven to be safe and efficacious
"Our recombinant technology fits perfectly in line with this initiative and we believe that we are well positioned to play a prominent role in the $2 billion preparedness plan being set forth by the U.S government. We believe our recombinant plant-based VLP technology, capable of rapidly producing highly-scalable, cost-effective vaccine supplies, will enhance the U.S. defense against the spread of influenza and other infectious diseases," added Mr. Sheldon.
The full report prepared by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology is available online at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/PCAST-Influenza-Vaccinology-Report.pdf.
About The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)
PCAST is an advisory group of the nation's leading scientists and engineers appointed by the U.S. President to augment the science and technology advice available to him from inside the White House and from cabinet departments and other federal agencies. PCAST is consulted about and often makes policy recommendations concerning the full range of issues where understanding of the domains of science, technology, and innovation bear potentially on the policy choices before the President. PCAST is administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). For more information about PCAST, see www.whitehouse.gov/ostp/pcast
Medicago is committed to providing highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary Virus-Like Particle (VLP) and manufacturing technologies. Medicago is developing VLP vaccines to protect against pandemic and seasonal influenza using a transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in non-transgenic plants. Their lead vaccine candidate, H5N1, has successfully completed a PI clinical trial and will be entering a PII clinical trial in 2010. Medicago's technology has potential to offer advantages of speed and cost over competitive technologies. It could deliver a vaccine for testing in about a month after the identification and reception of genetic sequences from a pandemic strain. This production time frame has the potential to allow vaccination of the population before the first wave of a pandemic strikes and to supply large volumes of vaccine antigens to the world market. Additional information about Medicago is available at www.medicago.com.
Forward Looking Statements
This news release includes certain forward-looking statements that are based upon current expectations, which involve risks and uncertainties associated with Medicago's business and the environment in which the business operates. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking, including those identified by the expressions "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate", "expect", "intend", and similar expressions to the extent they relate to Medicago or its management. The forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but reflect Medicago's current expectations regarding future results or events. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations, including the matters discussed under "Risks Factors and Uncertainties" in Medicago's Annual Information Form filed on March 24, 2010 with the regulatory authorities. Medicago assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements.
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