A*STAR and Cytos begin landmark influenza clinical trial in Singapore

The Singapore-based Agency for Science, Technology and Research and the Switzerland-based Cytos Biotechnology AG announced on Friday that the first healthy volunteer received an H1N1 influenza vaccine dose for a Phase I clinical trial.

The vaccine candidate, which is based on Cytos' proprietary bacteriophage Qbeta virus-like particle technology, would be Singapore's first influenza vaccine. The trial will test the safety and immunogenicity of the novel vaccine candidate and its ability to protect against H1N1 influenza infection.

"This is the first time Singapore is attempting to make its own flu vaccine," Lim Chuan Poh, the chairman of A*STAR, said. "In the wake of the recent H7N9 bird flu outbreak, it is timely that A*STAR is bringing Singapore's first H1N1 flu vaccine into Phase I clinical trial. This different approach of making flu vaccines will better respond to the needs of a flu outbreak. I am pleased that the collaboration with Cytos is making a meaningful contribution to Singapore's pandemic readiness, a critical aspect of our national security. The success of this potential vaccine will be of significant impact not only to the region but also the world."

A*STAR entered into a collaborative research, development and commercialization agreement with Cytos in 2010. The goal of the collaboration was to provide Singapore's government with an effective way to combat influenza epidemics and pandemics.

"We are very pleased with the fruitful collaboration which has led to the clinical start of this novel influenza vaccine," Christian Itin, the chairman and CEO of Cytos, said. "This is an important milestone for the program and the first clinical program using Cytos' B-cell vaccine platform for a prophylactic vaccine against an infectious disease."

Under the terms of the agreement, Cytos will retain the worldwide rights to develop and commercialize the vaccine candidate globally and A*STAR subsidiaries will have the right to develop and commercialize the vaccine for Singapore and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries while earning royalties on worldwide net sales.

"If this VLP-vaccine strategy proves to be effective, it can accelerate the production of vaccines against new emerging strains of flu," Alex Matter, the CEO of A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Center, said. "This will greatly aid Singapore's preparedness to produce vaccines quickly, safely and economically in the event of a flu epidemic.This could potentially open doors for faster production of vaccines to a range of viral diseases as well."