Univax Biologics Inc. announced Monday that it has started itsprogram to inoculate normal healthy volunteer blood donorswith its investigational MEP vaccine for treating a bacterialinfection common in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

The goal is to inoculate the 200 volunteers with mucoidexopolysaccharide (MEP) vaccine, which consists ofpolysaccharides purified from mucoid strains of the bacteriumPseudomonas aeruginosa. The polyclonal antibodies generatedby the vaccinated volunteers would then be used to treat CFpatients.

The Rockville, Md., company (NASDAQ:UNVX) announced in lateOctober that Phase I trials have already demonstrated that thevaccine is capable of eliciting opsonic antibodies in healthyvolunteers that react against mucoid strains of P. aeruginosa."The ELISA titers in some donors are sufficient to use inpatients," Gary Pekoe, Univax's director of clinical research, toldBioWorld.

One purpose of the current trial, Pekoe explained, is to"examine the length of time the antibody levels remain highenough in the (volunteer's) circulation" to use that individual asa kind of "renewable source" of antibody preparations.

"We anticipate using these antibodies for future production of apolyclonal antibody product intended for chronicadministration to CF patients," said Thomas Stagnaro, presidentand chief executive officer of Univax. -- Jennifer Van Brunt

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