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Patent Issued for Protein-Engineered Flu Vaccine Technology

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Fraunhofer USA in Newark, Delaware has been assigned a U.S. patent for its technology that binds proteins with antigens to fight influenza. The Patent and Trademark Office awarded patent 8,124,103 on 28 February to three inventors, including Vidadi Yusibov, executive director of Fraunhofer USA.

Yusibov also serves as the chief scientific officer of iBio Inc., a biopharmaceutical company in Newark that is taking the vaccine technology to market. The patent covers the Fraunhofer-developed process for fusing substances that generate antibodies against influenza called antigens with a protein known as lichenase.

This protein acts as a booster for the antigens and increases their effectiveness. The patent holders say that the fusion of lichenase to vaccine antigens can enhance duration of immune response, increase the stability of the product, and improve the economics of producing the vaccines.

The Fraunhofer process uses plants as the basis of its influenza antigens, including genetically engineered plants to produce the desired proteins. Plants, the patent notes, are relatively easy to manipulate genetically, and have some advantages over alternative animal-based sources. The patent says, however, that  the technology leaves open the option for adding animal sources, such as mammalian cell lines or bacteria, if required.

The technology can also be extended for other types of vaccines. “We previously published data demonstrating significant improvement in candidate vaccine performance in animal models when lichenase technology is employed with a range of target antigens,” says Yusibov, “including antigens from plague, malaria, and human papilloma virus.”

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