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Google venture arm backs UK universal flu vaccine company

Google創投資助英國萬能流感疫苗公司

· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

Vaccine that would be the first in the world to fight all types of flu has raised 20 million pounds (US$27 million) from investors including GV, the venture capital arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc.

英國一家私人公司正在研發一種世界首見,可對抗所有類型流感的萬能疫苗。該公司目前已籌措到兩千萬英鎊(兩千七百萬美元)的資金,投資者包括Google創投(GV),也就是Google母公司Alphabet Inc的投資部門。

Vaccitech, a spin-out founded by scientists at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute, said on Monday the cash would help fund its vaccine through a two-year clinical trial involving more than 2,000 patients and expand other projects.

Vaccitech是由牛津大學詹納研究所中多位科學家創立的衍生公司。該公司於週一表示,這筆現金投資將資助他們透過兩年臨床試驗以及超過兩千位病患參與的疫苗研發,以及其他衍伸計畫。

The group is also running clinical studies on an experimental shot to prevent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and a therapeutic prostate cancer vaccine for use with an immunotherapy drug. Recent advances have made such vaccine-drug combinations a hot area of cancer research.

該團隊目前也在進行其他臨床研究,包括一項仍處於實驗階段的中東呼吸綜合症(MERS)預防疫苗,以及一種配合免疫治療藥物使用的攝護腺癌醫療型疫苗。近年的研究成果讓這類疫苗搭配藥物的組合療法成為癌症醫學研究的顯學。

A so-called universal flu vaccine that elicits immunity against parts of the virus that do not change from year to year is a holy grail of medicine — but so far it has proved elusive.

Current flu vaccines have to be changed each year to match strains of virus circulating at the time. The hope is the new one-size-fits-all vaccine will provide better and longer-lasting protection.

所謂的萬能流感疫苗,是對流感病毒結構中不會每年改變的部分產生免疫力,可說是藥物中的聖杯─只是到目前為止,這個機制仍然難以掌握。

目前的流感疫苗必須每年更換,以因應當時流行的不同病毒株。這種新研發的「以一抗全」疫苗希望能夠提供更完善且時效更長的保護能力。

Vaccitech’s new vaccine works by using proteins found in the core of the virus rather than those on its surface. Surface proteins stick out like pins from the virus and change all the time, while those in the core are stable.

Vaccitech研發的新疫苗將使用在病毒核心取得的蛋白質,而非使用病毒表面的蛋白質。像針棘一般向外刺出的病毒表面蛋白質會隨時間不斷產生變型,然而那些位於核心的蛋白質卻是穩定不變的。

It also stimulates T-cells rather than antibodies, an approach that has yet to convince existing flu vaccine manufacturers like Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and CSL’s Seqirus.

這個新疫苗同時也會促進T淋巴細胞的運作,而不是刺激身體產生抗體,只是這類作用方式目前尚無法說服包括賽諾菲、葛蘭素史克,以及CSL旗下Seqirus在內的現有疫苗製造商。

Still, Vaccitech Chief Executive Tom Evans is confident the big players will come around if the current mid-stage clinical trial is a success and he will not have a problem in finding a partner to take the product into final-stage Phase III tests.“If we get positive data that shows we can affect rates of hospitalisation and illness with influenza then there is no question in my mind that a partner would take this on,” he told Reuters. “This could be a game-changer in a very competitive market.”The Vaccitech trial marks the first time that a universal flu vaccine has progressed beyond Phase I clinical testing.If all goes well, Vaccitech’s shot could potentially be ready for launch in 2023, although Evans said 2024 or 2025 might be more realistic. That means financial backers need to take a long view, especially as its other programmes using T-cells to make vaccines against cancer, MERS, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus are also at an early stage.“We wanted people who were willing to stick with us for a while and had bigger pockets for doing secondary rounds,” Evans said.

儘管如此,Vaccitech的行政總裁湯姆‧伊凡斯仍然信心十足,表示如果目前進行的中期臨床試驗順利成功,這些大型公司將會改變心意,加入團隊,到時他就不用煩惱是不是能找到可以把產品帶入最後第三期試驗階段的合作夥伴。

「如果能夠獲得支持的數據,證明我們的產品可以對流感的住院率與感染率帶來正面影響,那麼我認為毫無疑問地會有夥伴願意著手進行合作,」伊凡斯對路透社表示,「這個疫苗將有潛力大大顛覆這個競爭極度激烈的市場。」

Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2018/01/21/2003686117

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