Vical official says DNA vaccine technology addresses challenges of emerging diseases

GALVESTON, Texas — Vical Inc. reported Nov. 10 that it has a strong rationale advocating the use of DNA vaccine technology for emerging and/or pandemic infectious diseases.

Larry R. Smith, the company's vice president of vaccine research, outlined the advantages of DNA vaccine technology over conventional vaccine technology in dealing with serious emerging threats, during a symposium at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

His presentation, "DNA Vaccines: Rapid Response to Pandemic Outbreaks," highlights historical data from multiple human clinical trials of DNA vaccines demonstrating safety, broad immunogenicity and initial indications of efficacy. A favorable safety profile has been established through testing of various DNA vaccines in human subjects now totaling in the thousands.

Recent studies of DNA vaccines formulated with Vical's Vaxfectin adjuvant or polaxamers have shown clear ability to elicit both antibody and T-cell immune response, Smith said. These advantages, coupled with rapid development, flexibility and manufacturing which is not dependent upon cell culture or chicken eggs, encourage the use of DNA vaccine technology for emerging threats such as the recent H1N1 flu and other emerging diseases.

As previously announced, Vical was the first company to produce a vaccine candidate against H1N1 influenza after the initial reports of widespread outbreaks in Mexico, and the first to announce robust immunogenicity results from animal testing in two species.

The U.S. Navy has awarded a contract for $1.25 million to support preparations for a Phase 1 clinical trial of the company's H1 vaccine to be conducted in collaboration with the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center, a biomedical research organization within the Navy.

Vical researches and develops biopharmaceutical products based on its patented DNA delivery technologies for the prevention and treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases. Potential applications of the company's DNA delivery technology include DNA vaccines for infectious diseases or cancer. In addition, the company collaborates with major pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology companies that give it access to complementary technologies or greater resources.