Influenza :: Novartis receives US government contract to develop a novel antigen technology

Novartis announced that it has received a contract from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of approximately USD 55 million. The contract supports the company’s efforts to bring the antigen-sparing capabilities of the MF59 adjuvant to the United States. An adjuvant is a substance added to a vaccine to enhance the body’s immune response to the vaccine’s active constituent, called the antigen.

“Novartis is committed to the development and supply of vaccines to help protect against both seasonal influenza as well as the possible emergence of pandemic influenza. The use of our proprietary adjuvant MF59 with influenza vaccines has shown to be dose sparing and to provide additional immunogenicity against a broader range of potential pandemic influenza strains, while using lower amounts of viral antigen for the vaccine,” said Dr. J?rg Reinhardt, CEO of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

This latest HHS contract supports development efforts in the US to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of the MF-59 adjuvant in a cell cultured based pandemic influenza vaccine. The award will also support the design, equipment and validation for a US-based MF59 production facility in Holly Springs, North Carolina. In May 2006, Novartis received a contract from the HHS to develop a cell culture based influenza vaccine and to develop and design a manufacturing facility for such a vaccine in the US. Separately, in October 2005 and November 2006 Novartis was awarded contracts for a pre-pandemic vaccine by the HHS to contribute to the US National Strategic Stockpile, which is being built in accordance with the US Pandemic Preparedness Plan.

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