Singapore's first H1N1 flu vaccine reaches first phase of clinical trial

SINGAPORE - A team of Singapore and Switzerland scientists announced today that their first healthy volunteer has been dosed with their H1N1 influenza vaccine in a Phase 1 clinical trial.

The vaccine was developed by Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Switzerland's Cytos Biotechnology AG in a collaborative research, development and commercialisation agreement.

The H1N1 influenza vaccine was based on Cytos' proprietary bacteriophage Qbeta virus-like particle (VLP) technology.

Under the agreement, Cytos retains the worldwide right to develop and commercialise the vaccine candidate globally, while A*STAR subsidiaries will have the right to develop and commercialise the vaccine for Singapore and other ASEAN countries and can earn royalties on worldwide net sales

In this first Phase 1 clinical trial, the safety and immunogenicity of this novel vaccine candidate and its potential to protect against H1N1 influenza infection will be evaluated.

According to Professor Alex Matter, this VLP-vaccine strategy can accelerate the production of vaccines against new emerging strains of flu if it proves to be effective.

"This will greatly aid Singapore's preparedness to produce vaccines quickly, safely and economically in the event of a flu epidemic. This could potentially open doors for faster production of vaccines to a range of viral diseases as well," said the Chief Executive Officer of D3 (Drug Discovery and Development) and A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC).

This is the first time Singapore is attempting to make its own flu vaccine, said Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR and Co-Chair of the Biomedical Sciences Executive Committee in Singapore.

"In the wake of the recent H7N9 bird flu outbreak, it is timely that A*STAR is bringing Singapore's first H1N1 flu vaccine into Phase 1 clinical trial. This different approach of making flu vaccines will better respond to the needs of a flu outbreak," he said.

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