Nobilon nabs adjuvant for new flu jabs

By Anna Lewcock

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Influenza Immune system Vaccine

Organon subsidiary Nobilon has got its hands on a promising new
adjuvant that it plans to use to enhance it pandemic and seasonal
flu vaccines.

The Dutch firm has signed a licensing agreement with London-based biopharma Protherics, gaining the company access to its CoVaccine HT adjuvant for use in pandemic flu vaccines and seasonal flu shots for the elderly.

Under the terms of the agreement, Nobilon gains exclusive worldwide rights (excluding the US) to develop, manufacture and commercialise two new influenza vaccines containing the CoVaccine HT.

Protherics gets an upfront payment as a result of the deal, along with royalty and success related milestone payments on net sales by Nobilon.

The adjuvant itself is a sucrose fatty acid sulphate ester incorporated in a submicron emulsion of squalene in water.

When mixed with phosphate buffered saline this forms a stable aqueous emulsion which is then mixed with antigen to create the final vaccine.

The adjuvant has been shown to increase both the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to experimental vaccines, according to Protherics, and can be used in both prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines.

In pre-clinical models, the adjuvant has demonstrated superiority in stimulating an immune response compared to the traditional aluminium hydroxide adjuvant option, and with no sign of limiting local toxicity.

Use of the adjuvant also presents the possibility of reducing the amount of antigen required in a pandemic flu vaccine, which would be particularly helpful in terms of rapidly producing large volumes of vaccine in the event of an outbreak, or for planned stockpiling efforts.

Along with its new license for CoVaccine HT, Nobilon also yesterday announced a €3.5m cash injection from the European Union to help fund the development of a new pandemic flu vaccine containing the novel adjuvant.

The grant has been awarded to a consortium of vaccine specialists, including Nobilon and Protherics, who are together working on the so-called FluVac project.

By the end of the four-year scheme, the team of experts hope to be able to deliver a prototype vaccine with proof-of-concept studies.

Optimal doses of inactivated, cell-culture derived whole influenza virus H5N1 with CoVaccine HT adjuvant will be put to the test in preclinical and clinical studies.

Along with the immune response boost that the adjuvant should provide, using the whole virus instead of subunits is hoped to provide broader protective immunity.

Production of Nobilon's H5N1 viral antigen in cell culture also offers significant advantages over the traditional egg-based vaccine production methods, cutting down production times and providing a reliable source of antigen with consistent quality and reduced risk of contamination.

Working on the project alongside Nobilon and Protherics will be UK firm Retroscreen Virology, Erasmus Medical Centre in the Netherlands and the Landspitali University Hospital in Iceland.

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