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some interesting reading.

  1. 5,609 Posts.
    The Technologies
    Novel tests which utilize relatively inexpensive reagents and are designed to identify HEV and HAV IgM in serum or whole blood. ICT tests can be completed at point-of-care in 2-5 minutes, allowing immediate patient follow-up and consultation or identification. The ICT test can be performed by nurses, technicians, doctors or scientists with minimal training. Conversely, ELISA tests provide high throughput of specimens, more suitable for use in larger diagnostic laboratories. These technologies offer a complementary portfolio for diagnosis of the enterically transmitted forms of hepatitis, hepatitis E and hepatitis A.

    Inventor and Track Record
    Dr David Anderson (BSc, PhD) is internationally recognised for his work on hepatitis E and hepatitis A over the past 20 years. He is a regular speaker at major international conferences such as the triennial International Symposium on Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease (1990, 1996, 2000, 2003) and the author of 50 original research articles and book chapters on viral hepatitis. Dr Anderson is Deputy Director of the Burnet Institute and a Senior Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

    - Article from - MAY 24TH 2003

    Shot in the arm

    The vaccine business is booming

    A DECADE ago, Paul Drayson was best known as the man who invented "Scooples", a crispy bread that helped to make his fortune. This week, Mr Drayson's claim to fame is the sale of PowderJect, a British vaccines company he co-founded in 1993. Subject to shareholder approval, PowderJect will be acquired by Chiron, an American rival, for GBP542m ($890m), a whopping 31% premium over its average share price during the three months to the end of April.

    Mr Drayson's move from basic biscuits to high-tech medicine is mirrored in the vaccine industry itself. In the 1980s, vaccines were the poor relations of pharmaceuticals--low-tech, low-margin products sold mainly to government agencies to help them fight childhood disease. But the same biotechnology which has transformed other drugmaking has also allowed vaccine-makers to combat new diseases and create higher-margin vaccines (such as for hepatitis B) for adult consumers willing to pay out of their own pockets.

    Mother Nature is also giving vaccine-makers a boost. Ageing populations in the rich world are increasingly offered flu vaccines by governments keen to keep health-care bills low: together, Chiron and PowderJect become the second-biggest supplier in this $1 billion market. The emergence of novel infectious diseases also means new opportunities for vaccine firms: Chiron, for example, has already started work on a vaccine against SARS.

    Fear of bioterrorism is also helping. Since 2000, Acambis, a British vaccine firm, has secured $771m in contracts from the American government to supply it with smallpox vaccine. PowderJect, for its part, won a GBP32m order from the British government to do the same, a deal subject to keen scrutiny since Mr Drayson is also a prominent contributor to the Labour party. After an official inquiry, the contract was deemed above board, and now Powderject is waiting to hear whether it has won another big government order. All in all, reckons Amber Gibson, an analyst with Datamonitor, global vaccine sales have more than doubled since 1999 and are likely to grow by around 10% a year on average until 2010.

    That said, vaccine-making is an expensive, complicated and time-consuming business. It costs roughly $400m to bring a new product to market, and years of testing to ensure its safety. Even so, several vaccines have been withdrawn because of side-effects. Uncertainty about likely future demand, particularly in the case of bioterrorism, can be great, discouraging investment in innovation. Lingering controversies in some countries over links between, say, a combination vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, and autism, excite public fears. Even though an industry-wide product-liability fund has been set up, in America the fear of lawsuits is constant. Manufacture can be tricky, and capacity in short supply. A big attraction of PowderJect to Chiron, aside from its research, is its manufacturing operations in Britain and Sweden.

    No wonder vaccine-making is increasingly in the hands of big firms: between them, GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur, Wyeth, Merck and the soon-to-be-enlarged Chiron control more than 80% of the market. PowderJect itself was the product of several mergers; will it be the last for its new owner?

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