Acambis announces success with vaccine


The mosquito's deadly bite may soon be consigned to history following a breakthrough by Cambridge-based Acambis, the biotech company formerly known as Peptide.

The company has been searching for a vaccine to combat a number of the lethal diseases passed on by mosquitos, and yesterday it announced successful clinical trials for a single-dose vaccine against Japanese Encephalitis.

JE is prevalent in Asia where it kills 30 per cent of those who catch it.

Existing vaccines against JE are rarely used by travellers to Asia because they involve a multiple dose, yet the market is already worth more than 130 million and is likely to be valued at 200 million when the new vaccine becomes available -- probably in under four years.

Acambis' vaccine uses its ChimeriVax technology, developed from a strain of yellow fever, but is also being used in the bid to wipe out Dengue fever, and other viruses, including the dreaded West Nile, which killed large numbers of birds in New York and has now begun to kill people and horses in Europe.

The fact that is has been proved effective, has been well-tolerated and had few side-effects in the trials bodes well for its wider use in a combined market estimated to be worth up to 1 billion.

Dr John Brown, Acambis boss, said: 'The positive results of this trial are a major step forward for us and give us great confidence in the potential success of our vaccines against JE and other viral diseases.'

Dr Thomas P. Monath, an acknowledged world expert on these viruses, said: 'They are a major, and increasing, problem for tens of millions of people every year.

'This is the breakthrough the infectious diseases community has been seeking for years.

ChimeriVax can provide several vaccines with the potential to protect vast numbers of people from these life-threatening diseases.'