Protein Sciences makes progress on H7N9 flu vaccine

Protein Sciences Corporation, a Meriden, Connecticut-based vaccine development company, announced the development completion on Thursday of the vector required to manufacture a vaccine against the H7N9 avian flu virus.

Protein Sciences uses modern, proprietary, recombinant technology that allows the company to develop vaccines for potentially lethal viruses without using a live disease to avoid putting personnel in danger. The company is prepared to begin manufacturing within a few days of receiving orders for the vaccine.

"We are excited that we have been able to move so quickly on the H7N9 vaccine," Manon Cox, the president and CEO of Protein Sciences, said. "We have consistently been first to have vaccines for potential pandemics, including manufacturing the first pandemic vaccine in 1997-98 in response to the Hong Kong bird flu. We are very grateful for support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who provided us with a killed H7N9 virus that allowed us to start the process. Our Pearl River manufacturing facility has sufficient capacity to allow us to manufacture more than twice the number of doses of pandemic influenza vaccine in a six month period than is required by our contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority."

Protein Sciences leased the Pearl River, N.Y.-based facility from Pfizer in November and renovated and restored the facility to full operating condition within the first 100 days. In January, the company's seasonal influenza vaccine, Flublok, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Flublok is the world's first recombinant protein-based vaccine meant to prevent seasonal influenza disease for adults between the ages of 18 and 49.

Flublok and its sister vaccine, Panblok, which is meant to protect against pandemic flu, were developed in partnership with BARDA.