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Friday, October 20, 2006

Vical Defeats Bird Flu, Again

Vical Inc (VICL) has announced that a single injection of the company's lead avian influenza (flu) DNA vaccine candidate provided 100% protection in Ferrets against lethal challenge with a highly virulent H5N1 virus (Vietnam/1203/2004).

Vical sais that conventional vaccines under development for avian flu typically have required two or more doses in humans, even with novel adjuvants, to produce the immunogenicity levels expected to provide protection. It previously demonstrated that two doses of the vaccine candidate provided 100% protection in mice and ferrets against lethal challenges with H5N1 virus. A single-dose vaccine regimen could prove beneficial during a pandemic, both in extending vaccine supply to protect a greater number of people, and in achieving protective immune responses as quickly as possible. The studies were part of the company's program to develop a DNA vaccine to protect humans against emerging strains of flu virus that have the potential to cause a pandemic.

"We are excited by the recent advances in our pandemic flu vaccine development program," said Vijay B. Samant, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vical. "Earlier this week, we presented data from mouse studies demonstrating the dose-sparing ability of our Vaxfectin(TM) adjuvant when used with conventional flu vaccines. Today we presented data from ferret studies demonstrating the ability to provide complete protection with a single dose of our Vaxfectin(TM)-formulated avian flu DNA vaccine. Our goal is to advance into human testing with this program as quickly as possible, both to provide a potential defense against a pandemic outbreak and to explore the potential for a seasonal flu vaccine using a similar approach."

At least the ferrets will survive the great plague that the media keeps telling us will be the next pandemic. There have been some great suggestions on how to avoid the avian flu. First don't live with your chickens in your house. Wash your hands if you work around chickens or ducks (if you didn't know about that anyway). Definitely don't kiss any birds. Cook all birds thoroughly if you plan on eating them. If you follow these rules, both you and your ferrets may avoid the Avian Flu.

Jon C. Ogg
October 20, 2006
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