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Microscience developing new oral anthrax vaccine to counter bioterrorism

LONDON, ENGLAND, April 22, 2003 -- Microscience is developing an oral anthrax vaccine that is designed to provide rapid immunity against anthrax. This vaccine will improve protection at vulnerable sites such as the lung and intestine, where the most serious life threatening infections can take hold when anthrax spores are inhaled or ingested.

The current vaccines require multiple injections over several months in order to confer immunity. The Microscience vaccine is intended to be administered by mouth as a single dose, providing rapid onset of immunity, within days rather than months and will therefore be a more effective tool in dealing with a bioterrorist attack involving anthrax. As well as providing protective antibody in the blood, the vaccine will provide antibody at mucosal surfaces such as the intestine and the lung.

Microscience is harnessing its novel spi-VEC delivery system to deliver a protective antigen from the bacterium that causes anthrax. Spi-VEC is based on the use of a live attenuated bacterium which is also being developed as an oral typhoid vaccine. This vaccine, produced from a manufacturing process capable of being commercialised, has already demonstrated its safety and immunogenicity after administration of a single dose in a clinical study in the US(1) and is now in Phase II clinical development.

The company anticipates that the new oral anthrax vaccine will enter clinical trials in 2004. Microscience intend to conduct the trials using product from a manufacturing process developed for the typhoid vaccine. This is likely to considerably reduce development timelines once the product enters the clinic.

Steve Chatfield, R&D Director of Microscience, said "Our plan is to maintain our scientific and commercial lead in vaccine development by expanding the scope of the spi-VEC delivery platform. In addition this particular vaccine compliments several other of our oral spi-VEC vaccines currently in development and gives us further opportunities in the strategically important area of BioDefence".


1. Single Dose Oral Typhoid Vaccine Shown in US Multi-center Trial to be Safe and Immunogenic

Source: Microscience

Posted: April 2003