A step closer. Quebec City’s Medicago (TSX:MDG) today announced results from a phase I human trial that showed its H1N1 vaccine is safe.
A hundred volunteers received either a dose of Medicago’s H1N1 vaccine, an injection of the placebo or an an already licensed vaccine. With no side effects reported, company president and CEO Andy Sheldon said the results are “results are an important milestone as they continue to demonstrate that our rapid plant-based vaccine technology is both safe and effective”
Set Medicago’s chart against newspaper headlines and you’ll get an idea an idea of what they’re up to. The Company’s shares peaked in late 2009 as swine flu panic ripped through North America, and trailed off after the most dire of predictions failed to materialize.
Medicago develops plant based vaccines to combat new strains of influenza. Last August, The U.S. Department of Defense awarded the company a $21 million grant from to build a facility that can mass-produce its influenza vaccines. To date the company has received received (US) $10.7-million, including a recent $3.8 million tranche.
While clearing regulatory hurdles is a time consuming process for any biotech, Medicago is all about speed. The company uses tobacco leaves to produce pandemic and seasonal influenza VLP vaccines. One of the real benefits to this solution, compared to traditional egg-based or cell based production is speed; a vaccine can be produced for testing a month or less after the identification of a new strain.
In Genevea last month a panel of scientific experts, headed by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, cleared the World Health Organization of any misconduct in the way they handled the swine flu pandemic of 2009. The panel however, concluded that the WHO was rendered ineffective by the lack of available medicine.
“Vaccines were produced as fast as technology would have permitted. said Fineberg “But they came only months after the initial outbreak. The availability of drugs to combat influenza as with many viruses are still very limited. ”
At press time, shares of Medicago were trading at $.53 cents, even on the day.