DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke Human Vaccine Institute today announced a collaboration and strategic agreement with Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics to enable the rapid development of a vaccine and accelerate preparedness in case of a pandemic virus threat such as pandemic influenza. The team, composed of Duke and Novartis investigators, will utilize resources of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-sponsored Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Duke, and resources of Novartis’ state-of-the-art, cell-based vaccine manufacturing facility located in Holly Springs, N.C.
The five-year agreement calls for all parties and facilities – located only 30 miles apart in central North Carolina – to be activated and operational within 24 hours of a decision to move to emergency pandemic status based on information provided to vaccine makers by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and others.
“This is a uniquely important collaboration as it will facilitate immediate and optimal management of scientific demands and response to a pandemic while all parties are at the same table – from start to finish – due to our proximity,” said Barton Haynes, M.D., director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and the Center for HIV/AIDS Vaccine Immunology. “This project encompasses the best elements of both academic and pharmaceutical company translational research for the benefit of society.”
“This collaboration brings together the state-of-the-art facilities in the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory at Duke, faculty at Duke who are members of the Southeast Regional Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infections (SERCEB), and the vaccine development expertise at Novartis to respond quickly to infectious disease threats—a consortium that will benefit North Carolina and society in general”, said Fred Sparling, director of SERCEB and professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
The agreement also creates a robust research collaboration between the partners to take vaccine research in new directions. Together, the Duke Human Vaccine Institute and Novartis investigators will tackle both basic and translational vaccine studies.
[Note from SaneVax: This would be all well and good if it were not for the fact that so much scientific research indicates flu vaccines have limited efficacy and may be dangerous. Read this for more information.]