National Geographic just published an article with the title, "Why a MERS Vaccine Won't Be Easy.” By Karen Weintraub (of the Harvard Extension School). A decent article except the only company mentioned is Novartis. Zero mention of Novavax.
I did a little researching and found that Karen has written many article in support of Novartis (one is actually in today’s edition of USA Today).
Novartis has very close ties to Harvard. One of Novartis’s largest vaccine divisions is in Cambridge… Novartis’s former CEO, Dan Vasella went to the Harvard Business School. The Harvard Business School employs Novartis personal to run some of their programs etc.
So if you wondering why there’s no mention in this National Geographic article of Novavax, and their leading vaccine candidate for MERS… This might explain things.
The tentacles of big pharma are long, wide & powerful. We saw GSK get a stockpile order for an outdated and suspect H5N1 vaccine and Novartis get all the attention for their suspect H7N9 vaccine. (From ex-NVAX, BARDA director Robin Robinson). Maybe that is why NVAX has made the front page in KSA but not the USA…
The MIT article last week basically dismissed NVAX.
This might explain that...
"Novartis to pump $65M into new MIT center" Source: Boston Business Journal 2007
"MIT has announced a $65 million drug development partnership with a Swiss pharmaceutical company.
Novartis AG plans to fund the 10-year research grant, which is aimed at establishing the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing. The center is expected to develop technology designed to accelerate the process of drug development, according to university officials. The center is expected to employ as many as 10 MIT faculty members."
Surprise, surprise... I wonder how much influence $65M gets you?
If you check the comments below the article, someone posted that NVAX blocked MERS infection in mice and provided a link. The author of the MIT (Susan Young) responded responded with a link, saying NVAX had just shown antibodies.
We need more comments on the NG article and the MIT article to counter balance the apparent smear campaign against NVAX, by Novartis... Thanks to Dave and the rest of the people who have already done so.
Too bad we can post Zinc's excellent rebuttal to the MIT article... or maybe we can?
from the article... 2 comments mention Novavax... by the way... thanks to commenters
"Everyone agrees that the best hope is to stop MERS before it spreads further, the way SARS was stopped by killing the animals that were passing it on.
Camels are our best hope, Lipkin said. Instead of vaccinating people against MERS, the focus should shift to vaccinating camels, which appear to be a crucial point of transmission. "If you eliminate camels as a reservoir, I think you'd have a reasonable shot of getting this under control," he said.
Developing a vaccine for camels would be cheaper, faster, and easier than developing one for people, he said, without the same level of safety concerns. He thinks it's possible to get a vaccine into camels even before October's hajj pilgrimage.
"There are efforts to develop a vaccine under way," Lipkin said. To test such vaccines, researchers must find camels that have not been infected, vaccinate them, expose them to the disease, and then observe them for protection against infection. It's complicated, but much faster and easier than making sure people are helped more than harmed.
Novartis's Dormitzer agrees that the idea has merit. "It's a very interesting thought," he said. "There's a logic to it."
Nice. I like how the Novartis contact played dumb. "Hmmm, that's an interesting concept." Implication being, I've never heard that theory! Of course youve heard of it, numbnutts! The one biotech with the ready to make vaccine specifically suggested it!" At the same time, s/he didn't bad mouth the idea. After all, Novartis could be in the market for one of those camel-ready vaccines. Would be bad business to bad mouth your own potential product... Or, maybe I'm reading too much into it.
agreed..........worked with Novartis, and confirm the tight connections with Novartis in Boston, Cambridge, Harvard........Novartis Vaccines (now sold) is HQ in Cambridge. email the author and ask her to investigate Novavax and see how she replies.
Sentiment: Strong Buy
Check out the title of this article, written by the same woman who wrote the MIT article,
"Breakthrough Offers a Better Way to Make Drugs
An MIT-Novartis collaboration could be a boost for so-called “continuous flow” manufacturing."
By Susan Young Rojahn Nov 6, 2012
And we wonder why she didn't mention NVAX ...and even went so far as to make false statements about the lack of MERS testing in animals, as zinc correctly pointed out. (NVAX has tested their MERS vaccine in mice).
NVAX is going to when this war in the long run. Just like our VLP platform we are faster, more flexible and have a superior product.
We've had some good but limited PR from Wired, Reuters, Washington Post, Arab News and the Saudi Gazette... One of these days the mainstream media will have to start talking about NVAX.
That and all other continuous processes are suitable only for CHEMICAL drugs and cannot be used for vaccine technology at all*1
Batch processing is the only effective way to produce biotech drugs. Disposable bag technology is the very cutting edge there and that's exactly what NVAX uses. It greatly lowers costs, enables the use of standard facilities (that could be leased out short term for short term high production demands) with very little startup time (Basically you just use different disposable bags and enter the control parameters into the computers). It gives great versatility for meeting even highly variable levels of demand which are a major problem for vaccines.
And production can be switched from one product to another in a very short time. And if there isn't enough demand to keep company owned facilities busy, they can be leased out short term (because batches don't take long) to reduce costs and generate additional revenues.
*1 some post production processing, when and if required, could be better done in continuous production rather than in batches but there is no reason whatsoever why vaccine produced in batches could not be post processed by continuous means and NVS does not remotely "own" that idea.
Note that the tests NVAX did in mice of its MERS vaccine were not the usual antibody level test which are weakly indicative of efficacy, but tests for actual blocking of infection in disease model animals, which tests are far better indications of efficacy. No other vaccine company has posted any tests at all in animals (whether antibody levels or for blocking) on a MERS vaccine.
So what company is first in line for a grant from SA for working on a MERS vaccine that would work both in humans AND in camels!
Remember this article from MIT from earlier this week?
MIT: "We Need a MERS Vaccine, but High Costs, Regulations Make One Unlikely
New technologies give vaccine developers a boost in early development, but large-scale testing and production are bogged down by high costs and lengthy trials."
By Susan Young Rojahn on May 19, 2014
MIT, like Harvard has extremely close ties to Novartis. (Google MIT Novartis).
Remember how Zinc provided a point by point rebuttal of this article? (Nice work Zinc).
Get the picture?