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Research Team Publishes New Methods For Synthetic Generation Of Influenza Vaccines

LA JOLLA, Calif. and ROCKVILLE, Md., May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A team of international researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA, US Department of Health and Human Services), and Institut fur Virologie, Phillips Universitat, has published a study detailing new methods to rapidly generate influenza vaccine seeds by using synthetic genomics tools and technologies.

The team led by first author Philip R. Dormitzer, M.D., Ph.D., and senior authors J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., JCVI and SGI, and Rino Rappuoli, Ph.D., Novartis, published their study in the May 15 edition of the journal Science Translational Medicine. In a timed proof of concept this team demonstrated that in just four days and four hours they could accurately construct robust synthetic vaccine viruses for use in influenza vaccine development. The team concludes that this is a novel and accurate method that could enable a more rapid pandemic response and yield a more reliable supply of better matched seasonal and pandemic vaccines than are currently available.

"Our teams have been working hard to put our combined expertise to work toward the development of next generation vaccines," said Dr. Venter, CEO and Founder of JCVI and SGI. "We believe that synthetic genomic advances hold the key to transforming many industries and one of the most important will be in advanced vaccines that have the power to help prevent public health threats such as influenza pandemics."

The study details the synthetic vaccine techniques and methods developed by the team after the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. While the response to this pandemic was the fastest in history, vaccines only became available after the rate of human infections had peaked. Novartis and other vaccine companies have relied on the World Health Organization (WHO) to identify and distribute live reference viruses or viral genes to create seasonal or pandemic vaccines. The 2010 publication of the first synthetic cell constructed by the team at JCVI described new synthetic genomic tools and techniques that were adapted to create flu vaccine viruses.

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