Shares of Medicago (TSX:MDG) gained more than 11% today after the company announced it had been awarded a “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract” from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The contract gives the Quebec-based company the right to bid on the manufacture and delivery of certain tobacco-produced proteins. The award follows a proof of concept demonstration that had Medicago produce 10 million doses of a vaccine candidate in 30 days. That project, says the company, was successfully completed in July of 2012
Mike Wanner, Medicago’s executive vice-president of operations said the news finalizes the company’s effort to become fully commercial.
“This contract is important as Medicago is now listed as a company meeting all of DARPA’s rigorous technical requirements,” he said. “This fits Medicago’s revenue-generation model nicely as we can leverage our cost-effective commercial production facility in North Carolina to bid for production orders when they are issued by the U.S. government.”
Medicago came to public attention when the 2009 swine flu panic threatened North America, and trailed off after the most dire of predictions failed to materialize. The company, which develops plant based vaccines to combat new strains of influenza, was awarded a $21-million grant from the Department of Defense a year later.
Medicago’s solutions 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 how quickly it can be produced; a vaccine can be produced for testing a month or less after the identification of a new strain.
Medicago also announced that it is is working with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to develop a vaccine for rotavirus, in addition to other vaccine candidates.
Shares of Medicago closed today up 11.3% to $.445.