-Medicago to develop a vaccine facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-
RALEIGH and QUEBEC CITY, Aug. 10 /CNW/ - Medicago USA Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Medicago Inc. (TSX: MDG), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing highly effective and affordable vaccines based on proprietary manufacturing technologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), today announced that it has been awarded a $21 Million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Broad Agency Announcement (BAA), Defense Sciences Research & Technology to demonstrate the scalable manufacturing of its plant-expressed VLP vaccines in the U.S.A. under a Technology Investment Agreement.
Medicago will develop a 90,000-square-foot cGMP facility in Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina. This state-of-the-art facility will be a large, cost-effective and scaled-up facility for Medicago's VLP plant-based vaccine technology for the delivery of cGMP-grade vaccine. Medicago will scale-up and automate its cGMP process to demonstrate its capacity to produce 10 million doses/month of influenza vaccines with the potential for further expansion in the future.
This DARPA project is an accelerated and integrated effort to deliver effective production of pandemic influenza in the U.S.A. The Accelerated Manufacture of Pharmaceuticals (AMP) program seeks to identify new ways to produce large amounts of high quality vaccine protein in less than 3 months in response to emerging and novel biologic threats. The strategic collaboration is a $42M project in which DARPA contributes $21M, Medicago $7.5M and Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc. ('Alexandria') $13.5M.
"We are thrilled to be awarded such significant funding from DARPA for the development of a state-of-the-art plant-based VLP vaccine capability in the U.S.A. as it further validates the growing and strategic interest in our rapid and cost-effective vaccine technology," said Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago. "This DARPA funding is also perfectly in line with our development plan for both our pandemic and seasonal influenza products as we will now have a U.S. facility ready to participate in the $7B pandemic and seasonal influenza markets. In addition, our U.S. facility will provide us enhanced access to the various grant programs in the U.S.A. and we will be ready to take part in these additional funding opportunities."
Alexandria Real Estate Equities is the largest owner and leading provider of high-quality environmentally sustainable real estate, technical infrastructure, and services to the broad and diverse life science industry focused in the leading life science clusters.
"We are delighted to be working with Alexandria as they are a leader in their field and it allows us to reduce the upfront capital required for the building of our new U.S. commercial grade facility," added Mr. Sheldon.
"This collaboration further highlights the emergence of plant-based platforms as viable technologies for the production of valuable products like vaccines," said Doug Dean, Senior Vice President R&D of Philip Morris International. "As Medicago have clearly demonstrated, their plant-based technology has significant benefits over traditional manufacturing methods."
During the recent H1N1 influenza outbreak, Medicago's rapid plant-based VLP vaccine technology was able to successfully develop a vaccine candidate in less than a month after identifying the H1N1 strain and is therefore one of the few technologies that can provide a solution in the case of a pandemic.
"It's vitally important to our Homeland Security that we have a robust domestic vaccine supply, and this facility will add to our production capacity helping mitigate future threats," said Congressman David Price. "Medicago's facility will ultimately bring hundreds of good paying jobs to the region, and DARPA's investment in this project is another significant contribution to local recovery efforts. This is a welcome confirmation that the Triangle continues to lead the way delivering innovative high-tech products and creating the jobs that will power a 21st Century economy." Rep. Price is the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
Medicago will host an investor conference call and webcast on August 10, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. ET to discuss this development. To access the conference call by telephone, dial 647-427-7450 or 1-888-231-8191. A replay of the call will be available by telephone through August 17, 2010. To access the telephone replay, dial 416-849-0833 or 1-800-642-1687 and enter reservation number 93065193 followed by the number sign.
Members of the media are invited to attend the press conference to discuss this development.
When: Tuesday, August 10th at 9:00am
Where: North Carolina Biotech Center Auditorium,
15 T.W. Alexander Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
About Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc.
Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., Landlord of Choice to the Life Science Industry(R), is the largest owner and pre-eminent first-in-class REIT and leading provider of high-quality environmentally sustainable real estate, technical infrastructure, and services to the broad and diverse life science industry focused in the leading life science clusters. Client tenants include institutional (universities and independent not-for-profit institutions), pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, product, service and translational entities, renewable energy entities, as well as government agencies. Alexandria's operating platform is based on the principle of "clustering," with assets and operations located in key life science markets. Their asset base approximates 12.7 million rentable square feet (including spaces undergoing active redevelopment and properties undergoing ground-up development).
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 pandemic and seasonal influenza using a transient expression system which produces recombinant vaccine antigens in non-transgenic plants. Their lead vaccine candidate, H5N1, has successfully completed a PI clinical trial and will be entering a PII clinical trial in 2010. Medicago's 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 news release includes certain forward-looking statements that 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 "Risks Factors and Uncertainties" in Medicago's Annual Information Form filed on March 24, 2010 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.
For further information: For further information: Medicago, Inc., Andy Sheldon, President and CEO, (418) 658-9393 x135; Medicago Inc., Christina Cameron, Investor Relations Manager, (418) 658-9393 x156