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ARC AWARDS $300,000 TO PANVAX TO DEVELOP FMDV VACCINE.

Prima Biomed Limited (ASX: PRR) subsidiary Panvax Ltd has received a boost in its vaccine development program with the $300,000 award of an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project Grant.

Panvax will collaborate with the University of Melbourne's Centre for Animal Biotechnology and the Austin Research Institute over three years and continue its studies of the DCtag mechanism of action in sheep, to develop a novel vaccine for the Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV).

This study builds on previously announced results that described immunogenicity results in sheep, particularly the ability of DCtag to induce superior interferon gamma production, a key marker of antiviral immunity. In FMDV, this type of immunity has been specifically associated with sustained long-term immune responses to the virus and the elimination of persistent virus.

Foot-and-mouth virus infection affects a range of cattle including cows, sheep and pigs. It is one of the most serious threats to Australian and world agriculture. Vaccination with current whole virus vaccines leads to specific antibody production making it difficult to distinguish between vaccinated animals and natural infection. This has mostly prevented its use in USA, Europe and Australia and other currently FMDV free countries, which mostly rely instead on quarantine and control. The DCtag technology aims to target very specific FMDV components to induce protective immunity, providing a path to distinguish vaccines and carriers. This will enable strong IP protection for Panvax and allow global use of FMDV vaccines.

Panvax will match the funds committed by this grant. ARC Linkage Projects support innovative R&D collaborative projects between higher education researchers and industry and identifies an allocation to projects of benefit to regional and rural communities. Expert Advisory Committees assess applications by the quality of the investigators, the project's significance, innovation and development approach, industry partner commitment and national benefit. The awarding of this grant by the ARC provides important further third party endorsement of the potential and quality of the Panvax DCtag technology.

DCtag is a vaccine carrier platform technology which enables proteins to become potent immunogens. It has shown superior ability in animal models to induce high levels of immune killer cells (CD8+) and antibodies. This technology has so far demonstrated very strong potential to prevent and treat cancer and a lethal infectious disease; malaria.

The company is currently completing the first stage of its R&D program (scheduled for July 2003). The results achieved to date have allowed the company to enter into negotiations for commercialization and collaboration of DCtag as an adjuvant earlier than forecast.

About Prima Biomed

Based in Melbourne, Prima Biomed (ASX: PRR) is a biotechnology organization with first and last rights over technologies from the Austin Research Institute. Prima Biomed specializes in immunology and cancer immunotherapy and adopts technology development that shows potential for commercial returns within three years.

Panvax Ltd is a biotechnology company owned by Prima Biomed, 65% and the Austin Research Institute 35%. The company is developing the technology DCtag for use as an adjuvant to vaccines for infectious diseases and immunotherapies in the treatment of cancer.

For more information, visit http://www.primabiomed.com.au.
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Publication:Worldwide Biotech
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Aug 1, 2003
Words:515
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