Medicago recieves DARPA support for rapid vaccine creation

Medicago USA Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of vaccines through proprietary technologies and virus-like-particles, has received a second milestone payment of $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The second payment is part of a $21 million grant awarded to Medicago by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the demonstration of scalable manufacturing of its plant-expressed VLP vaccines in the United States. The company has received $10.7 million to date for the project.

"The ability to build a state-of-the-art vaccine facility in just one year requires a great technology, solving novel engineering problems, and a solid team," Mike Wanner, vice president of U.S. Operations at Medicago USA, said. "We have met all milestones to date and our U.S. vaccine facility is projected to be operational during the second half of 2011."

The original grant was received in August 2010 to develop a 90,000-square-foot cGMP facility in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The state-of-the-art facility, which is currently under construction, will be a scaled-up and cost-effective facility to manufacture the vaccines. Medicago intends to yield 10 million doses per month of influenza vaccines with the possibility for further expansion.

The DARPA project hopes to identify new ways to produce large amounts of vaccines that can be manufactured in less than three months to respond to novel and emerging biologic threats.