Novartis, others utilizing gene-mapping for new vaccines

BASEL, Switzerland Novartis has become one of a few drug manufacturers showing results in using gene-mapping, mapping the genes of bacteria, to create new pharmaceutical products as way to bolster its drying pipeline and aging product discoveries, according to the Wall Street Journal.

One drug developed by Novartis is a vaccine to treat meningitis B, a deadly form of the infection. So far, the drug has proven successful in trials, where 60 percent to 90 percent of the infants who were given the shots experienced a strong level of protection against three common strains of the infection. These infants were given two shots and are scheduled to receive another two shots. The company plans to move the vaccine into much larger trials and if successful, would try to have the vaccine hit the market by 2010.

Intercell is testing a number of vaccines that it developed from gene maps, including one for pneumococcus, which causes pneumonia. Intercell and Merck are jointly developing another genomically derived vaccine for staph infections. And GlaxoSmithKline also has used gene-mapping to develop vaccines against streptococcus and the bacterium that causes meningitis B; both are in early-stage testing.

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