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Immune Targeting Systems Ltd.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Immune Targeting Systems is developing synthetic vaccines that target rapidly mutating viruses. Its lead product is a universal vaccine designed to target all potential seasonal and pandemic flu strains, including H1N1 and avian H5N1. Since ITS uses synthetic sequences, it does not have to rely on chicken eggs for production, thus eliminating a key bottleneck in conventional flu vaccine production.

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Marinomed Biotechnologie GMBH

Marinomed Biotechnologie, which derives drugs from marine sources, is eyeing both the OTC and prescription markets. The Vienna-based start-up has already launched its first product: an OTC nasal spray formulation of a drug based on a polysaccharide extracted from seaweed. The company has in vitro and in vivo efficacy data for this compound against seasonal influenza, suggesting that it may also have potential for treating pandemic flu.

Start-Ups Set Sights on Flu

The swine flu/H1N1 pandemic presents a lucrative opportunity for drug developers and Big Pharmas won't be the only firms to capitalize on the sudden multibillion-dollar opportunity. There's evidence that the pandemic is driving investors to flu-focused biotechs as well. In this issue, we profile four emerging companies that hope to reap the rewards of what should continue to be a promising fund-raising environment for potentially novel flu therapies.

Alios BioPharma Inc.

Alios BioPharma aims to create an improved version of interferon--the only drug that could be considered a broad-spectrum antiviral--to help patients who do not respond well to currently marketed forms of the protein. Alios also plans to develop a small-molecule drug that can be given orally yet carry out a key function of the interferon response-degrading viral genomes. Such a drug could potentially treat influenza, hepatitis C and B, HIV, and a host of other viruses.

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