Medicago successfully produces VLP vaccine candidate for H7N9 virus responsible for recent influenza outbreak in China

May 08, 2013, 07:00 ET from Medicago Inc.

-Medicago Ready to Collaborate with Authorities to Further Study the Potential of this Vaccine to Protect Against H7N9-

QUEBEC CITY, May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ - Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG; OTCQX: MDCGF), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing highly effective and competitive vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), today announced that it has successfully produced a new VLP vaccine candidate  for the H7N9 virus that is responsible for the current influenza outbreak in China.

"To our knowledge, Medicago is the first to produce a VLP vaccine candidate against this potential pandemic strain demonstrating our  ability to be a first responder in a pandemic scenario," said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago. "Current influenza egg based vaccine manufacturers can take up to six months to produce a vaccine for any new strain, we have proven once again that we can cut this development time drastically.This combined with our vaccine production capacity at our pilot facility in Canada and our commercial facility in North Carolina and our best-in-class efficacy results for our H5N1 vaccine, strongly positions Medicago as a key player in addressing a potential  pandemic."

In order to produce an influenza vaccine, Medicago only requires the genetic sequence of the viral strain, dramatically limiting the delays that occur using traditional manufacturing systems. Medicago's H7 VLP is  currently being purified in preparation for immunogenicity studies in animal models.

The hemagglutinin (HA) sequence used for the development of the H7 VLP vaccine was obtained from the GISAID EpiFlu™ Database. Medicago would like to thank  Dr. Jun Li and the Hangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China), respectively author and originating and submitting laboratory for the sequence of HA of the isolate A/Hangzhou/1/2013 (sequence ID EPI_ISL_138977). 

To date, a total of 130 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection with the new avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, including 31 deaths, have been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO). Contacts of the confirmed cases are being closely monitored.

Medicago's pipeline includes:

  • Phase II pandemic readiness clinical trial for H5N1 pandemic influenza vaccine with interim data expected in summer 2013;
  • Medicago is developing a Rotavirus vaccine with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma under a strategic alliance that will include two additional vaccine candidates
  • The initiation of a U.S. Phase IIa clinical trial for a quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccine with interim data expected in summer of 2013;
  • GMP process development for a rabies vaccine are ongoing; ;
  • In addition to vaccines, Medicago is conducting research and development in the area of biosimilar products.

About Medicago

Medicago is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel vaccines and therapeutic proteins to address a broad range of infectious diseases worldwide. The Company is committed to providing highly effective and competitive vaccines and therapeutic proteins based on its proprietary VLP and manufacturing technologies. Medicago is a worldwide leader in the development of VLP vaccines using a transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in plants. This technology has potential to offer more potent vaccines with speed and cost advantages over competitive technologies, enabling the development of a vaccine for testing in approximately one month after the identification and reception of genetic sequences from a pandemic strain. This production time frame has the potential to allow vaccination of the population before the first wave of a pandemic, and supply large volumes of vaccine antigens to the world market. Medicago also intends to expand development into other areas such as biosimilars and biodefense products where the benefits of our technologies can make a significant difference. Additional information about Medicago is available at

Forward Looking Statements
This news release includes certain forward-looking statements or forward-looking information for the purposes of applicable securities laws and such statements and information are based upon current expectations, which involve risks and uncertainties associated with Medicago's business and the environment in which the business operates. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical facts may be deemed to be forward-looking, including those identified by the expressions "anticipate", "believe", "plan", "estimate", "expect", "intend", and similar expressions to the extent they relate to Medicago or its management. The forward-looking statements are not historical facts, but reflect Medicago's current expectations regarding future results or events. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations, including the matters discussed under "Risk Factors and Uncertainties" in Medicago's Annual Information Form filed on March 28, 2013, with the regulatory authorities. Medicago assumes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those reflected in the forward-looking statements.

SOURCE Medicago Inc.