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Medicago to collaborate on multi-million US govt' grant for avian flu vaccine

|Includes: Meridian Gold Inc. (MDG)

Biotech company Medicago (TSX: MDG) announced Tuesday that it was selected to collaborate with the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) on a multimillion dollar grant from the US Department of Defense, which will be used for the development of an avian flu vaccine.

The grant, awarded to IDRI by the US Dept's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will be used for a phase I clinical trial that will combine Medicago's plant-made H5 vaccine with IDRI's vaccine modifier technology, as well as a micro needle delivery device.

The idea behind the project is to create a single dose vaccine that can be produced, distributed and administered quickly in the case of a pandemic. Medicago's plant-based vaccine technology has been proven to produce emerging strains faster than conventional egg and cell-based technologies.

"This research collaboration may provide unique solutions that make vaccination against Influenza pandemics not only faster but with minimal dosing and greater ease of application," said president and CEO of Medicago, Andy Sheldon.

"We continue to advance the clinical development of our H5 avian flu vaccine and expect to have Phase II interim results within the coming weeks."

IDRI is a Seattle-based not-for-profit organization that looks to develop products to prevent and treat infectious diseases of poverty.