Published time: July 27, 2012 20:03
Edited time: July 28, 2012 00:03
“Vaccinating susceptible populations during the initial stage of a pandemic is critical to containment,” Dr. Alan Magill, DARPA program manager, says in an official statement. “We’re looking at plant-based solutions to vaccine production as a more rapid and efficient alternative to the standard egg-based technologies, and the research is very promising.”
The World Health Organization has gone on the record to say that as much as half of the people on the planet could be affected by a pandemic in the near future, and it could take as much as nine months for a vaccine for a pandemic virus strain to become made available. With the lives of billions of people across the world at stake, DARPA has been trying to determine new ways of churning out antidotes in as little time as possible. Now its researchers say, that in only a month, scientists “produced more than 10 million doses (as defined in an animal model) of an H1N1 influenza vaccine candidate based on virus-like particles (VLP).”
Through DARPA’s previously established Blue Angel program, researchers have spent several years searching for new ways to produce mass quantities of vaccine-grade protein that could be used to combat what they say are very real emerging and novel biological threats.
Andy Sheldon, Chief Executive Officer of Medicago , says in the company’s own press release that “The completion of the rapid fire test marks a substantial achievement in demonstrating our technology and the potential for Medicago to be the first responder in the event of a pandemic flu outbreak.”
Medicago’s research was conducted in a 97,000-square-foot vaccine facility in North Carolina that was funded through a $21 million Technology Investment Agreement with DARPA.