Embrex Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C., announced Mondaythat the USDA has approved a combination Marek's diseasevaccine for poultry, to be administered via Embrex's Inovojectautomated egg injection system.

The bivalent vaccine, HVT/SB-1, produced by Tri BioLaboratories of State College, Pa., defends against the two mostprevalent virulent field strains of the virus that causes Marek'sdisease.

Marek's disease causes nervous system tumors in chickens,"which make the birds unable to pass USDA inspection," saidKenneth West, Embrex's vice president of sales, marketing andbusiness development. But because of modern vaccinationpractices, "less than 1 percent of the birds get rejected at thefinal inspection," West said. "All chickens are vaccinated againstMarek's."

Given that the U.S. will produce almost 6.5 billion broilers thisyear, that's a lot of vaccinations. Embrex's automatic egginjection and transfer system replaces the labor-intensivemanual inoculation of day-old chicks with a means ofinoculating 20,000 to 30,000 fertile eggs per hour.

Another manufacturer of Marek's vaccines, Select Laboratories,a U.S. subsidiary of Rhone Poulenc, has also sublicensedEmbrex's in ovo technology for its monovalent SB-1 and HVTvaccines, for which it is awaiting USDA approval. Of theapproximately five Marek's vaccine suppliers, "Select and TriBio capture approximately 60 percent of the market," Westsaid. "These are the first major agreements that provideadditional vaccines for our system," he said.

Embrex, which also sells two monovalent Marek's vaccines, iscurrently in discussion with other vaccine manufacturers forlicensing its mass vaccination technology, both for treatingMarek's and for other diseases.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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