Meriden’s Protein Sciences has been awarded a multi-million dollar extension to its contract with the federal government to provide flu vaccines.
Protein Sciences has developed a novel way to grow vaccines that uses cell culture, or recombinant technology, and doesn’t involve chicken eggs. It’s less allergenic, and new vaccines can be developed much more quickly and accurately with the method, meaning that health officials can respond more effectively to the threat of pandemics.
In 2009, the company signed a contract with BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This second extension of the contract runs through the end of next year, and is worth $50.6 million.
The funds allow Protein Sciences to license and build out its manufacturing facility in Pearl River, New York. The plan is to have the capacity to produce 50 million doses of vaccine within six months of the declaration of a pandemic.
Dan Adams, executive chairman of the company, said for the future, the method has great promise -- particularly in the developing world. "We have a platform technology that allows us to develop vaccines for multiple diseases, particularly things that are really dangerous, because we only use the genetic code," he said. "We can develop these things quickly. We can manufacture them cheaply."
Protein Sciences Flublok vaccine was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in January of last year. It’s currently partnering with another company to seek approval in Japan.