Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise (PREVENT) announces board members, vaccine targets

Apr 30, 2008

SASKATOON, SK. Scientific leaders from three of Canada’s foremost public health vaccine research agencies will gather on the University of Saskatchewan campus tomorrow to officially launch the $25.5-million Pan-Provincial Vaccine Enterprise (PREVENT), a new national vaccine commercialization consortium.

“PREVENT will accelerate the most promising Canadian vaccine discoveries and overcome hurdles that currently hamper development of new and safer vaccines,” said Andrew Potter, PREVENT’s chief executive officer and head of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the U of S where PREVENT will be housed.

Announced in February with $15 million from the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence through its Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research program, PREVENT has recently been incorporated as a non-profit company that will help bridge the gap between basic science and licensed vaccines.

Potential vaccine targets for fast-track commercialization include influenza, whooping cough, chlamydia, E. coli, and prion diseases such as “mad cow.”

“We expect that the first vaccine candidate approved by our board for the PREVENT development pipeline will enter Phase I clinical trials by 2010,” said Potter.

PREVENT’s funding includes $10.5 million of in-kind support from its three partners – VIDO, the BC Centre for Disease Control in Vancouver, and the Canadian Center for Vaccinology (a partnership among Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Centre and Capital Health) in Halifax.

PREVENT will consult with the national public health community and the vaccine industry to identify promising vaccine candidates most likely to meet Canada’s health needs and its commitment to World Health Organization goals. Vaccine products will be marketed to both industry and the public sector.

Named as directors of the PREVENT board are:

  • Lorne Babiuk (Chair) Vice President Research, University of Alberta
  • Christian Blouin, Director, Vaccine Division, Merck Frosst Canada
  • Robert Brunham, Provincial Executive Director, BC Centre for Disease Control
  • Richard Florizone, Vice-President Finance and Resources, U of S
  • Scott Halperin, Director, Canadian Center for Vaccinology
  • Gregory Hammond, former Director, Public Health Branch, Province of Manitoba
  • George Khachatourians, Professor, U of S
  • David Scheifele, Professor, Pediatrics, Division of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of British Columbia
  • Andrew Potter, Director, U of S VIDO/InterVac (International Vaccine Centre)
  • Paul Hodgson (Secretary), Associate Director, Business Development, VIDO

To minimize start-up costs, PREVENT will make use of existing infrastructure at VIDO and its partner facilities in Vancouver and Halifax. The company will hire between 10 and 15 staff, including three director-level positions.

PREVENT’s impact is expected to include creation of new companies and increased investment for public health research and development.

PREVENT will also play a key role in co-ordinating Canadian graduate student training in vaccinology. At the U of S, the recently established School of Public Health and the graduate program in vaccinology and immunotherapeutics will help train highly qualified individuals.


Background: The PREVENT Partners

PREVENT has been created as a national resource to shoulder the risk of early-stage vaccine development. Nascent vaccines developed by Canadian academic institutions and biotech companies can stall at the stage of preclinical or early clinical development due to insufficient funding, risk or uncertain market potential.

By addressing these challenges, PREVENT will accelerate the development of vaccines for both humans and animals, ensuring that Canadians benefit from innovative vaccines for public health priorities.

  • University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO brings preclinical research capacity to PREVENT (Containment Level 2 laboratory and animal facilities) and is leading development of the $140-million International Vaccine Centre (InterVac), Canada’s largest Level 3 laboratory dedicated to vaccine development and capable of testing vaccines for large animals.

  • Canadian Center for Vaccinology (a partnership among Dalhousie University, the IWK Health Centre and Capital Health) brings a 30,000 square-foot-vaccine research centre for basic translational science, epidemiology and clinical trials (Phases I-III), and implementation and evaluative policy research.

  • BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) delivers prevention services and conducts research on the epidemiology, pathogenesis and control of infectious diseases and environmental hazards. The BCCDC, in partnership with the University of British Columbia, will contribute to PREVENT through vaccine antigen discovery methods (with secured patents) for respiratory viral diseases and sexually transmitted pathogens.

Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECRs): The CECRs were established by the federal government in Budget 2007 to pursue major discoveries and bring them to the marketplace. The CECRs are part of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Program, founded in 1989 to foster research partnerships among universities, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations. The NCE Program is an initiative of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, in partnership with Industry Canada.