Medicago's Pandemic Flu Vaccine Provides 100% Protection in Mice at Low Doses



    QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - Medicago Inc. (TSX-V: MDG) today announced
that low doses of the Company's H5N1 Avian Influenza VLP vaccine ("H5N1 VLP
vaccine") provided 100% protection in mice against a lethal challenge of live
H5N1 viruses. In addition, this preclinical study demonstrated that Medicago's
vaccine has the ability to recognize and kill an H5N1 strain that is different
from the one used to design the vaccine.
    The study was conducted in Lyon, France at the P4 Laboratory Jean Mérieux
- Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale ("INSERM"), a
unique, high security research centre for studying highly pathogenic viruses.
In this study, mice were vaccinated with a range of doses of the Company's VLP
vaccine made from an Indonesian strain of H5N1 Avian Influenza. The mice were
then challenged with a different live H5N1 strain from Turkey. Results
demonstrated that mice vaccinated with Medicago's H5N1 VLP vaccine were fully
protected from illness and subsequent death even at the low dose of
0.5 microgram. During the experiment, 100% of the vaccinated mice survived,
while 60% of the control group died. The study was performed in collaboration
with Dr Hervé Raoul, Director of the P4 Laboratory Jean Mérieux-INSERM,
Dr. Vincent Lotteau, Immunologist at INSERM, Professor Bruno Lina from Lyon
University and Dr. Eric Quéméneur, Head of Biochemistry and Nuclear Toxicology
at the French Atomic Energy Commission.
    "I'm very pleased with these results and I take great pride in what our
team and our collaborators have been able to accomplish," said Andy Sheldon,
President and CEO. "The successful completion of this first lethal challenge
study is an important step in moving our H5N1 VLP vaccine towards human
clinical studies. Results from this preclinical study will be included in a
clinical trial application currently targeted for the fourth quarter of 2008
and human trials are expected to commence following clearance by Health
Canada."
    "A major hurdle with development of pandemic flu vaccines has been the
mutation of the H5N1 virus over time. As a result, cross-protection, rapid
development and production are key components in the successful development of
these vaccines," said Nathalie Landry, Medicago's Vice President Product
Development. "This is the first demonstration that our VLP vaccine can protect
against infection with a live deadly virus and provide cross-protection among
different strains of H5N1 in circulation. These results further demonstrate
the potential of our manufacturing technology and vaccine in addressing a
significant global health problem."
    "Our facility is amongst the few worldwide that is able to offer high
levels of containment and safety measures, necessary for the study of lethal
pathogens," said Dr. Hervé Raoul, Director of Laboratoire P4 Jean
Mérieux-INSERM. "The use of VLPs produced in plants as vaccines for humans is
an interesting avenue to approach pandemic influenza challenges. We look
forward to continuing our collaboration with Medicago on this project."

    About Medicago Inc.

    Medicago is committed to provide highly effective and affordable vaccines
based on proprietary Virus-Like Particle (VLP) and manufacturing technologies.
Medicago is developing VLP vaccines to protect against H5N1 pandemic
influenza, using a transient expression system which produces recombinant
vaccine antigens in the cells of non-transgenic plants. This technology has
potential to offer advantages of speed and cost over competitive technologies.
It could deliver a vaccine for testing in about a 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 strikes and to supply large volumes of
vaccine antigens to the world market.
    Additional information about Medicago is available at www.medicago.com

    Forward-Looking Statements

    This press release contains forward-looking statements which reflect the
Company's current expectations regarding future events. The forward-looking
statements involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ
materially from those projected herein. The Company disclaims any obligation
to update these forward-looking statements.

    The TSX Venture Exchange assumes no responsibility for the content or
    accuracy of this press release

    %SEDAR: 00023641EF




For further information:

For further information: Medicago Inc., Andy Sheldon, President and CEO,
(418) 658-9393; The Equicom Group Inc., Arianna Vanin, Investor Relations,
(514) 844-4680, avanin@equicomgroup.com

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