Ondek plots human trials of drinkable flu vaccine

Australian Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall is planning a trial of a new drinkable flu vaccine. His company, Ondek, plans to enroll 30 subjects later this year, with results expected in 2013.

Ondek's vaccine replaces genes in the stomach bug Helicobacter pylori with those of the flu and other viruses, according to Bloomberg, with the goal of eliciting an immune response as the bug colonizes the gut. The advantage of a drinkable vaccine is that essential components can be freeze-dried, simplifying the storage and delivery of the vaccine and bypassing the possibility of injection-site reactions. Early testing of a "disarmed" version of the delivery method showed that the bug was capable of colonizing the stomach.

"We're focusing on flu because we think that would be attractive to investors," Marshall told Bloomberg. "That's the big market." Ondek's 20 investors have banded together to raise $3.1 million, though more will be needed once trials begin.

- read the Bloomberg story