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Protein Sciences wins $150M contract for gene-based vax program


Protein Sciences' gene-based approach to vaccine development has drawn considerable support from the federal government.

The government issued a $35 million contract to the vaccine company to help advance an entirely new approach to vaccine development that holds the promise of being far faster than the R&D methods currently in use. And that will give the government, and the world, a better shot at a rapid-fire response to future pandemics.

The contract is designed to expand up to $150 million over five years, provided testing goes well. The company extracts a gene from the target virus, inserts it into an insect virus, which then multiplies quickly inside an insect cell. That product is then purified and made into a human virus.

Protein Sciences recently set out to make a new vaccine for swine flu, saying it could produce 100,000 doses a week with its method. That's one of a number of initiatives currently underway to fight the rapid spread of H1N1 around the world.

The contract, though, swiftly became a lightning rod for the company's creditors, who had filed a petition a day earlier aimed at forcing Protein Sciences into bankruptcy. Protein Sciences and Emergent Biosolutions have been engaged in a bitter squabble ever since a buyout agreement between the two companies fell apart. But a spokesman for the HHS said that the government had audited Protein Sciences and determined that it was financially capable to meet its end of the deal.

- read the report from Reuters

Related Articles:
Creditors call for Protein Sciences liquidation
Emergent ends attempt to buy Protein Sciences
Protein Sciences, Emergent wage war of words
Emergent accuses biotech execs of wrecking pact
Emergent BioSolutions buys flu vaccine maker

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