Israeli biotech BiondVax gets government help to build flu vaccine manufacturing facility

BiodVax will build a facility in Jerusalem capable of manufacturing tens of millions of doses of its universal flu vaccine.

Israeli biotech BiondVax is looking forward to the day when its universal flu vaccine will be commercially available and has snagged some government help to prepare for manufacturing the vaccine candidate.

The company today said the Israeli government has given it a grant to pay about 20% of the costs to build a $5.5 million facility in Jerusalem that will be able to produce enough product for its phase 3 and commercial needs.

It is what the company called a mid-size facility, capable of manufacturing up to tens of millions of doses of M-001, the vaccine candidate that is designed to provide multi-season protection against most seasonal and pandemic human influenza virus strains.

“This significant milestone signifies the evolution of BiondVax from a biotech start-up to a pharmaceutical company positioned for significant growth...” BiondVax CEO Dr. Ron Babecoff,said in a statement.

Developing a flu vaccine that works against many strains has been called the "holy grail" in the field and there are multiple players, large and small, looking to do it. That includes Sanofi Pasteur, which currently produces about 220 million doses of flu vaccine each year. The company has been working on a vaccine candidate it calls Cobra, which was developed through genetic sequencing of many flu viruses. It offer manufacturing flexibility because it could be manufactured year-round and provide protection for more than one year.

Smaller companies, however, can also expect to win a sizable piece of the flu vaccine market by incorporating new cell manufacturing technology, research firm, GlobalData predicts