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$300,000 CIHR grant awarded to Medicago, the Research Institute of the MUHC and McGill University

This release is available in French.

Montreal, March 1, 2010 The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have awarded a $300,000 grant for research focusing on the nature of the immune response induced by the action mechanisms of plant-made Virus-Like Particles (VLP) to Dr. Louis Vezina, Chief Scientific Officer of Medicago and to Dr. Brian Ward and Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) and McGill University.

"Receiving this government grant further acknowledges the scientific merit of our joint research efforts with McGill in the development of leading plant-based VLP vaccines," said Andy Sheldon, President and Chief Executive Officer of Medicago. "A deeper understanding of all potential benefits of the immune response generated by our VLPs will allow us to further differentiate and better position our product on the market. We believe our VLP vaccines will be the preferred option to increase the speed of a public health response in the event of a pandemic outbreak as our VLP plant-based manufacturing process is very efficient with a relatively low capital cost."

"VLPs are among the most promising technologies to produce the next generation of vaccines. The technical simplicity and low cost of VLP production in plants add great value to this delivery system as it is the first platform technology with a realistic potential to address the needs of the developing world for low cost vaccines," said Brian Ward, Associate Director of the Research Institute at the MUHC (Fundamental Science). " I am delighted that we have secured this grant from CIHR as a sophisticated understanding of how these vaccines interact with the immune system is of considerable importance."

Medicago recently reported positive interim results from a Phase I human clinical trial with its H5N1 Avian Influenza vaccine candidate ("H5N1 vaccine"). The vaccine was found to be safe, well tolerated and also induced a solid immune response. Full results of the Phase I trial will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal and will be available in the coming months.

Dr. Brian Ward, is Associate Director of the Research Institute at the MUHC (Fundamental Science), Co-Director of the MUHC Vaccine Evaluation Centre and also a Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. Dr. Ciriaco Piccirillo is Canada Research Chair, Principal Investigator of the Laboratory of Immuno-regulation, Director of the FOCIS Center of Excellence, Director of the Immune Phenotyping Platform at the RI MUHC and Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill University


Contact: Julie Robert
McGill University Health Centre

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