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Duke, Novartis to Develop Pandemic Virus Vaccines

Vaccination (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

(U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

The Duke Human Vaccine Institute in Durham, North Carolina agreed today with the pharmaceutical company Novartis to collaborate on the rapid development of a vaccines in case of virus threats such as pandemic influenza. The agreement also creates a research partnership to tackle both basic and translational vaccine studies.

The five-year agreement calls for the parties — located only 30 miles apart in central North Carolina — to be activated and operational within 24 hours of an emergency pandemic alert. These alerts would likely include requests for vaccine production and originate with agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization.

The joint team, composed of Duke and Novartis investigators, will use the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Duke, as well as resources of Novartis’ cell-based vaccine manufacturing facility located in Holly Springs, North Carolina. The cell-culture method provides for a more rapid pandemic response than egg-based vaccines, which take longer to produce and can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Duke’s Regional Biocontainment Laboratory — one of 13 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-funded labs in the U.S. — can isolate and sequence pandemic strains of influenza and other viruses, evaluate viruses in pre-clinical models, and produce viral seed strains for new vaccines developed by Novartis.

Read more: HHS Review Highlights Role of Business in Medical Countermeasures

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