[ASC-media] Bird flu vaccine

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Fri Sep 1 04:44:47 CEST 2006

A new vaccine against bird flu being developed by an Australian company
is a step closer today with the announcement that CDC Atlanta will
conduct pre-clinical trials on a candidate vaccine developed by
Melbourne biotechnology company BioDiem and Dutch company Akzo Nobel's

The flu virus changes every season. So today's flu vaccines are grown in
chicken eggs each year using a killed version of the current influenza
virus doing the rounds. It's a slow process - too slow if a pandemic
bird flu emerges. 

If it passes the trials, BioDiem's vaccine will have several advantages.

It is a live vaccine and their seasonal flu vaccine based on the same
technology has been shown to give broader protection against influenza
virus variants in comparison with an inactivated flu vaccine.  So while
an inactivated pandemic flu vaccine would have to be remade to be
effective each time the flu virus genetically changes, BioDiem's flu
vaccine would be expected to still provide meaningful protection. 

The new vaccine can be grown in cell culture, so it can be mass produced
faster. The current vaccine is made in eggs - a time consuming process
taking at least three to four months - and the world capacity for
vaccine production in eggs is limited, particularly if the chickens are

It will require just one dose and will give coverage within a day of
administration. The inactive vaccines in development require two shots
three weeks apart and then take two weeks to give protection.

The new vaccine would also be administered as a nasal spray, allowing
fast distribution and no needles. 

The US CDC at Atlanta is amongst the world's foremost authorities in
emerging disease threats so it's exciting that they have agreed to run
the pre-clinical trials.

I have included a full copy of the company's press release below. 

For interview please contact Rick Willis on 03 9600 1979 or 0411 839


Niall Byrne

Science Communication Consultant
Science in Public
PO Box 199 Drysdale 3222 Australia
(185 Scotchmans Road Portarlington 3223) Ph +61 3 5253 1391, fax +61 3
9923 6008, mobile 0417 131 977 
niall at scienceinpublic.com or niallprivate at scienceinpublic.com for
personal matters



30 August 2006


Melbourne, August 30: In a major boost to the fight against the world
bird flu pandemic threat, Melbourne based pharmaceutical development
company BioDiem Ltd (ASX:BDM) today announced it had signed a
cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the US
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop a cell
culture candidate vaccine against avian influenza H5N1.

The agreement, co-signed with BioDiem's international partner Akzo
Nobel's Nobilon, means BioDiem's live attenuated intranasal flu vaccine
will be advanced through pre-clinical development at the CDC in its
high-security laboratories.  According to experts at the World Health
Organization, a live vaccine may offer better and broader protection in
the event of a pandemic outbreak.

The CDC in Atlanta is the US government's leading site for research into
the prevention and monitoring of high-risk bio-terrorist and pandemic

The co-operative research will generate, characterize and evaluate, in
pre-clinical models, live attenuated cold-adapted influenza vaccine
(LAIV) candidates against influenza A H5N1 viruses. 

BioDiem CEO Tom Williams said: "It's a reflection of the potential of
this live attenuated influenza technology that the CDC is contributing
its resources to this program of work on BioDiem's flu vaccine.  We're
delighted that the scientists at CDC and our partner Nobilon will be
working together with scientists from BioDiem on this vital project."
"This is an extremely important collaborative agreement which could
prove crucial in our efforts to develop a vaccine for one of the world's
leading health risks," said Toon Wilderbeek, Akzo Nobel's Board member,
responsible for Pharma.  "A key challenge for developers of potential
pandemic vaccines is sufficient supply.  One of Nobilon's main areas of
cutting-edge expertise is in cell culture production to provide benefits
of scale-up, speed and efficiency. This is vital to any effective
vaccination program." 

The US government has recently acknowledged that cell culture production
of influenza vaccines may provide a superior service compared to the
traditional supply based on embryonated eggs in that the production
timeline may be shortened and vaccine production may be increased with
fewer delays.

BioDiem has licensed the majority of the LAIV rights to Nobilon, which
has recently received European GMP registration for its new facility in
the Netherlands to begin manufacturing influenza vaccines in cell
culture for clinical trials.  BioDiem retains the right to license out
the sales and marketing rights to the world's largest market, North
America.  Japanese rights are to be shared with Nobilon. 


The breadth of response produced by BioDiem's vaccine could be vital in
dealing with a potential influenza pandemic.  

The ability to efficiently transmit from human to human, which has not
yet been seen, would indicate the H5N1 virus had changed, which may make
current inactivated avian flu vaccines ineffective until they can be
updated to include the new strain.  A live attenuated pandemic vaccine
may still provide some useful protection against a new but closely
related strain until a more specific vaccine was made to match.  A live
attenuated influenza vaccine may also allow for a single dose of a
smaller amount of vaccine to provide meaningful protection, compared
with currently available inactivated vaccines which would mean more
people could be vaccinated.

About BioDiem Limited

BioDiem Ltd is an Australian listed company, based in Melbourne, with an
international focus on finding, adding value to and commercialising
world-class research for vaccines, infectious diseases and other
therapeutic areas. The company takes a cost-efficient approach to drug
development by project managing a portfolio of new products through
collaborations with academic centres of excellence, contract research
organizations and partnerships with international pharmaceutical

Further information:

Tom Williams
CEO, BioDiem Ltd
Ph: (03) 9613 4100
Ph:  0419 868 911
Web: www.biodiem.com

Rick Willis
Hinton & Associates
Ph: (03) 9600 1979
Ph: 0411 839 344


Niall Byrne

Science Communication Consultant
Science in Public
PO Box 199 Drysdale 3222 Australia
(185 Scotchmans Road Portarlington 3223) Ph +61 3 5253 1391, fax +61 3
9923 6008, mobile 0417 131 977 
niall at scienceinpublic.com or niallprivate at scienceinpublic.com for
personal matters

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