Purdue Research Foundation licenses new flu vaccine candidate to PaxVax

Published: May 2, 2007

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., and SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Purdue Research Foundation announced Wednesday (May 2) that it has licensed a technology to PaxVax Inc. that uses a harmless virus as a bird flu vaccine as well as a vaccine delivery platform.

The foundation's Office of Technology Commercialization granted the license to PaxVax Inc., a privately held San Diego-based corporation. The adenovirus-based vaccine technology is genetically modified to transport an extra gene related to the influenza virus. That gene produces a protein in the host’s cells, which triggers an immune response against bird flu. The process to earn approval for this vaccine through Food and Drug Administration-regulated human clinical trials has not yet begun.

The proprietary technology also involves utilizing the adenovirus as a vaccine delivery system or transmitting agent capable of targeting other diseases.

"Our priority in the coming year is to bring this project forward to clinical trials to address the need for vaccines against bird flu as well as to expand our vaccine platform,” said Daniel R. Henderson, Ph.D., CEO of PaxVax. "We believe that this important license gives PaxVax exclusive rights to develop adenovirus vector-based vaccines encoding bird flu antigens."

Developed through collaborative efforts by researchers at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the intellectual property involves the genetic modification of the adenovirus, said Suresh Mittal, a Purdue molecular virologist who led the team of scientists. The adenovirus is modified further to render it unable to replicate itself.

“An adenovirus vector-based vaccine has the promise of providing long-lasting and broad immunity against multiple strains of the virus,” said Mittal, a professor of veterinary pathobiology with Purdue’s Department of Comparative Pathobiology. "It also can be mass-produced much more quickly than by current methods.”

The proteins that form the basis for all of today's flu vaccines are grown in fertilized chicken eggs. The egg production method takes months to produce a new vaccine for a new virus strain, creating difficulty in redesigning vaccines to keep pace with virus mutations. The new, cell culture-based technique, however, is expected to be much quicker, making it ideal for responding once the genetic makeup of the expected virulent form of bird flu is known.

Scientists believe that without the right vaccines and preparation, a virulent form of bird flu, H5N1, has the potential to cause one of the deadliest flu outbreaks if it mutates in a way that makes human-to-human transmission easier.

The research was funded with a $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Mittal’s collaborators included Harm HogenEsch, co-principal investigator and head of Purdue's Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, and CDC investigators Jacqueline Katz and Suryaprakash Sambhara.

About PaxVax Inc. PaxVax Inc. is a San Diego, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing an oral vaccine delivery platform based on recombinant human adenoviruses. The company's vaccine candidates are designed to be easier to store, distribute, administer and deliver than conventional injectable vaccines while enhancing the desired immune response to the vaccine antigens. Vaccines under development include bird flu, influenzae, HPV, anthrax and HIV.

About Purdue Research Foundation On behalf of Purdue University (http://www.purdue.edu), the Purdue Research Foundation (http://www.prf.org) operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. In 2006, the foundation issued 30 patents, granted 97 licenses and options, and received $3.8 million in royalty payments. The foundation also owns and manages the nationally-acclaimed Purdue Research Park, home to the largest cluster of technology-related companies in Indiana.

Contacts:

Jeanine Phipps, Purdue Research Foundation Communications & Marketing, (765) 494-0748 (office), (765) 413-5579 (mobile), jeanine@purdue.edu

Daniel Henderson, CEO, PaxVax Inc., (858) 761-8648, dhenderson@paxvax.com

Suresh Mittal, professor of veterinary pathobiology, Purdue University, (765) 496-2894, mittal@purdue.edu