PHARMACY

Avant sees positive resutls on combined vaccine

BY Drew Buono

NEEDHAM, Mass. Avant Immunotherapeutics has released preclinical data showing positive immunogenicity and lack of immune interference for an experimental single-dose, oral vaccine combining protection from three causes of severe enteric diseases: typhoid fever, enterotoxigenic E. coli and cholera.

The experimental, trivalent vaccine consists of the co-administration of two live-attenuated bacteria: the Peru-15pCTB vaccine candidate that forms the basis of Avant’s investigational combination ETEC/cholera vaccine and the company’s investigational typhoid fever vaccine, Ty800.

“Demonstrating a lack of vaccine interference is an important step in the development of a “Super-enteric” vaccine capable of combining rapid protection against multiple disease agents in a single, oral dose,” said Una Ryan, president and chief executive officer of Avant Immunotherapeutics.  “Vaccines that protect against multiple diseases with a single dose are highly valued in all target markets, including travelers, military and people in developing countries where these diseases are widespread.”

The company recently announced that the National Institutes of Health will be sponsoring a Phase 1 clinical trial of the Peru-15pCTB vaccine combining protection against ETEC and cholera in 2008, and Ty800 is currently undergoing Phase 2 clinical testing.

“If the results of these current clinical studies are successful, the preclinical data presented today pave the way for initial human clinical testing of a trivalent Super-enteric vaccine,” commented Ryan.

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Wyeth and GSK may see competition in pediatric vaccines

BY Allison Cerra

LONDON There may be a clash of the titans underway.

Pharma giants Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline are set to go head to head with their competing childhood vaccines, but Wyeth dismissed any worries about the newcomer to the vaccine playground.

Wyeth’s Prevnar will remain a key sales driver for the company but would not be hindered by Glaxo’s Synflorix, said Emilio Emini, the U.S. group’s head of vaccine research and development, on Tuesday.

Prevnar, a vaccine for infants and children to prevent certain invasive pneumococcal diseases, is active against seven types of streptococcus pneumonia, which together account for some 80 percent of illnesses, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Glaxo’s Synflorix, which a company spokeswoman said remained on track for submission to European regulators by the end of 2007, targets 10 types, and even prevents inflammation of the middle ear.

But Emini said Synflorix was incomparable to the new version of Prevnar.

“Essentially, it is a direct equivalent of the original Prevnar,” he said in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the FT Global Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Conference. “If you look at the residual 20 percent of disease (not addressed by Prevnar) and ask how much is covered by the GSK 10-valent vaccine, it’s actually a small percentage. How much is covered by Prevnar-13? It’s over 60 percent,” Emini said.

Wyeth intends to submit a new version of Prevnar, active against 13 strains, to both European and U.S. regulators by the beginning of 2009.

The original version of the vaccine was introduced in 2000. Third-quarter sales of Prevnar were up 24 percent from a year earlier at $634 million.

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Biomira to make move to U.S. under new name

BY Drew Buono

EDMONTON, Canada Biomira shareholders have approved a plan to move the company to the U.S. and to change its name to Oncothyreon Incorporated. Oncothyreon will be the parent corporation of a successor company of Biomira and its subsidiaries, according to Canada.com.

The biotech company, which focuses on cancer treatment, currently has a few drugs in its pipeline including Stimuvax, which it is developing with Merck to treat non-small cell lung cancer. That drug is currently in a Phase III clinical trial. The next drug that is furthest along in development is a small molecule called PX-12, which is a drug used to treat pancreatic cancer and is currently in a Phase II trial.

“We are very pleased to have received the strong support of our shareholders for our relocation and the revision of our capital structure,” chief executive officer Robert Kirkland said. The shareholders will receive one-sixth of a share of common stock of Oncothyreon in exchange for each Biomira share. The new company will be based in Seattle.

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