By Simeon Bennett
Barry J. Marshall, the Australian scientist who won a Nobel Prize for identifying a cancer-causing stomach bacterium, plans to start a trial next year using the bug in a drinkable flu vaccine.
Marshall, the founder, scientific director and majority owner of closely held Ondek Ltd., plans to test the vaccine in at least 30 people in the U.S., and expects results from the trial by mid-2013, he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Ondek, based in Perth, Australia, aims to harness the ability of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori to colonize the stomach. The bug’s harmful genes will be removed and those from influenza and other viruses will be inserted to stimulate an immune response. If successful, the vaccine would be sold as a freeze-dried powder or a capsule, sidestepping the inconvenience and side effects of injections, Marshall said.
“We’re focusing on flu because we think that would be attractive to investors,” Marshall said. “That’s the big market.”