North American Vaccine Inc. said Friday that it has signed acollaborative research and development agreement withRockefeller University to develop a vaccine against Group AStreptococcus infections. Neither the terms of the agreementnor the technologies involved were disclosed.

There is no vaccine currently licensed by the FDA to preventGroup A infections. Between 20 million and 30 million casesoccur annually in the United States. The most common infectionis strep throat, which occurs primarily in school-age children.

"It has been difficult to make a vaccine for the disease becauseit's hard to elicit sufficient immune responses to getbactericidal activity," said Sharon Mates, president of AmVax(AMEX:NVX). Mates said the collaboration will focus ondifferent aspects of the bug, which is a mucosal pathogen, thanhave researchers in the past.

Mates said she was unaware of any other company developinga Group A Strep vaccine.

The company's shares closed at $11.50, up 88 cents, on Friday.-- KB

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