Canadian Research Collaboration Produces World's First Food Safety Vaccine: Against E. coli 0157:H7

CANADA - Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, yesterday reiterated the significance of being part of a collaboration leading to the world's first food safety vaccine: a cattle vaccine against E. coli 0157:H7.
calendar icon 11 January 2007
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The collaboration included the University of British Columbia and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization. Bioniche Life Sciences is announcing today that it is scaling up production of the vaccine in order to ensure sufficient supply to meet Canadian demand.

The Company previously announced (on December 22, 2006), that it, as the commercialization partner, has received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to distribute the E. coli 0157:H7 cattle vaccine to Canadian veterinarians. CFIA is allowing distribution of the vaccine under a Permit to Release Veterinary Biologics as specified in the Canadian Health of Animal Regulations. This equates to a conditional license in the U.S.

Recent outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7 affecting spinach and other produce in North America have highlighted the fact that this is an increasingly serious human threat that goes beyond meat (the first major foodborne outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 occurred in 1982 and was associated with ground beef). Human exposure to E. coli 0157:H7 is being increasingly associated with contaminated fruit, vegetable, unpasteurized milk and fruit juice, potable and recreational water, and from direct contact with animals at fairs and petting zoos.

"This vaccine will ensure that Canadian cattle producers continue to provide a safe product for Canadian consumers," said Dr. Lorne Babiuk, Director of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) and Canada Research Chair in Vaccinology and Biotechnology in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. "More importantly, the reduction of E. coli shedding into the environment will have far-reaching consequences regarding environmental contamination. The recent outbreaks of E. coli infection from consumption of vegetables is an example of additional benefits of such a vaccine. The key discovery to making this vaccine a reality was made by Dr. Brett Finlay at the University of British Columbia, when he deciphered the mechanisms by which E. coli attaches to and infects animals. Using this knowledge, it was possible to target the specific proteins of the bacterium for use in the vaccine."

"It is wonderful to see that this vaccine can be used to prevent the tragic food and waterborne outbreaks associated with this organism," added Dr. Brett Finlay, Professor, Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia. "It is also a great feeling to see all the work that went into the basic discoveries being applied to a vaccine that should have real impact on Canadians' health."

The Bioniche E. coli 0157:H7 cattle vaccine was one of the interventions referenced in an article in the journal, Nature (vol. 445, 4 January, 2007). The article, entitled "The dark side of E. coli", discusses recent human health outbreaks caused by E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria in food products. The article referenced the Bioniche vaccine as a "promising research lead that might help prevent future outbreaks."

"Our vaccine is the first product to be registered globally as a pre-harvest (pre-slaughter) intervention," said Graeme McRae, President & CEO of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. "It will be an important supplement to post-harvest (post-slaughter) interventions already implemented by the meatpacking industry."

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