Medicago, MTPC join forces in vaccine agreement

Medicago Inc. has announced a strategic alliance with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) via the execution of a Master Research Collaboration Agreement.

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QUEBEC CITY—Biopharmaceutical company Medicago Inc., whichspecializes in the development of vaccines based on proprietary manufacturingtechnologies and Virus-Like Particles (VLPs), has announced a strategicalliance with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) via the execution ofa Master Research Collaboration Agreement. The partnership will focus ondeveloping and commercializing at least three new vaccines, with MTPCresponsible for funding all research and development costs. In exchange for grantinglicensing rights, Medicago will be eligible to upfront and milestone payments,in addition to royalties on each product to result from the agreement.
"I am proud to announce this strategic alliance withMitsubishi Tanabe Pharma for the development of several new vaccines. Itvividly demonstrates the value that pharmaceutical companies place on newtechnology production platforms that have the potential to improve efficacy,cost and speed of production," Andy Sheldon, President and CEO of Medicago,said in a press release. "This collaboration leverages the significantstrengths of our two companies towards a shared vision that can positivelyimpact vaccine development and benefit patients worldwide."
Per the terms of this agreement, which will aim to develop aRotavirus Like Particle vaccine target, MTPC will have the option of licensingthe RLP vaccine target and assuming global development, regulatory andcommercialization responsibilities. In return, Medicago stands to receive up toC$33 million in upfront and milesonte payments, as well as royalties on futuresales. MTPC will pay Medicago C$3 million upfront to begin initial research.
"We are excited to be forming this strategic alliancewith Medicago using their innovative, plant-based VLP technologies. Ourresearch collaboration aims to create new and better vaccines that will improvethe health of people around the world," Dr. Michihiro Tsuchiya, Presidentand Chief Executive Officer of MTPC, said in a press release.
Rotavirus ranks as the most common cause of severe diarrheain infants and young children worldwide, with a global incidence of rotaviruscurrently estimated at 125 million cases annually. In addition, the virus isresponsbiel for more than 500,000 deaths annually, with over 85 percent ofthose occurring in Africa and Asia. children under the age of five are most atrisk. Vaccines against rotavirus gastroenteritis are available and provide themost impact when it comes to reducing severe disease incidence, but limitedaccess to these vaccines due to economic issues is a primary concern indeveloping countries.
VLPs "consist of protein shells studded with short strands of the proteins specific towhatever disease the vaccine is intended to control," according to Medicago'swebsite. The VLPs are designed to look like a virus, which allows them to berecognized by an individual's immune system, but since they lack the coregenetic material, they are non-infectious and incapable of replicating. Whilecurrent influenza vaccines are manufactured with an inactivated virus,VLP-based vaccines don't require a sample of the virus, but merely the geneticsequence. In addition, VLPs "more effectively activate key aspects of theimmune response to achieve potent immune stimulation and to provideimmunological memory. VLP-based vaccines have also shown to provide protectionagainst different strains of a virus other than those for which the vaccine wasformulated."
SOURCE: Medicago press release

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