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Holt pushes vaccine breakthroughs in Congress

Following the article is a snip from VaxInnate's website on the new DNA technology for producing mass quantities of vaccinations.

There are two congressmen that currently represent Middletown in Washington DC, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.

Holt, NJ-12, toured VaxInnate, a leading biotechnology company specializing in novel methods of developing and mass-producing vaccines for deadly diseases like malaria and pandemic and seasonal influenza.

“I am pleased to see the innovative search and development of improved vaccine technologies that is occurring right here in Central New Jersey,” Holt said. “The current egg-based method of vaccine development and production is outdated and unreliable. The groundbreaking research and development occurring in Cranbury holds real promise in improving the health of all Americans.”

Holt secured $1 million for VaxInnate in the 2007 Defense Appropriations Act to support its research and development of a vaccine for malaria. Such a synthetic, single component vaccine could be produced in advance and stockpiled, and would be especially beneficial to the U.S. armed forces. Six of the last seven troop deployments were to malarial regions (Bosnia is the exception).

“This represents another significant milestone for VaxInnate, and we thank Congressman Holt for his tireless efforts to represent the interests of the life sciences here in his district,” said Alan Shaw, president and CEO of VaxInnate. “The funding will enable us to collaborate with the Department of Defense in demonstrating how our technology platform can dramatically change the way we approach malaria vaccine development - with the potential to not only improve potency but also reduce costs and greatly expand the scale of production to better protect the military, and reach vast underserved populations.”


Current vaccine manufacturing is based on growing virus in live fertilized chicken eggs. In a laborious process, the virus is then harvested, purified and processed to recover viral antigens. Egg-based systems take six to nine months to manufacture and release a year’s batch of vaccine, making it difficult to predict demand or respond quickly to public health emergencies.

VaxInnate’s fusion vaccine can be efficiently and economically manufactured in bacteria. The technology for producing large quantities of proteins in bacteria has been practiced for over two decades, and many currently available protein-based drugs are manufactured in this way. The method involves the insertion of a circular DNA "vector" coding for the flagellin-antigen fusion product into bacteria. The DNA directs the synthesis of the fusion product, which either accumulates in the bacteria or is secreted into the surrounding media. The following purification steps to isolate the protein are very straightforward. Applied to vaccines, bacteria-based production avoids traditional egg-based manufacturing, lowers the cost of goods of the final product, and establishes a more rapidly scaleable manufacturing process. In addition, a bacteria-based manufacturing process avoids the risk that an avian flu pandemic will destroy egg-laying flocks.