FluMist, nasal flue vaccine

December 13, 2001

FluMist, nasal flu vaccine invented at U-M, helps lead MedImmune to pursue Aviron

Publicly traded biotech firms MedImmune Inc. and Aviron announced Dec. 3 that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which MedImmune plans to acquire Aviron---adding Aviron's FluMist to its product offerings. The deal is anticipated to close in the first quarter 2002.

Hunein "John" Maassab invented FluMist after more than four decades of work at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. If approved, FluMist would represent a new approach to influenza vaccination: a nasal spray.

This summer, the Food and Drug Administration's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee found that FluMist is effective, but asked for more information regarding safety. Aviron, which licensed the FluMist technology from U-M, plans to provide additional information to the FDA by the end of the year. In the merger announcement, MedImmune said its goal is to launch FluMist in 2002, with sales goals of $500 million within three years of its launch and $1 billion within five years.

FluMist uses a live but weakened virus, administered to help develop immunity. This weakened virus is adapted to grow at the lower temperatures of the nasal passages where it enters the body but not the warmer conditions of the lungs where disease develops. A trivalent vaccine, like the flu shot, it includes three different strains of vaccine.
Maassab's work on influenza dates back to his doctoral studies in the 1950s. He was inspired by his mentor, Thomas Francis Jr., who oversaw the U.S. Army's flu vaccine program during World War II and worked with Jonas Salk to prove that Salk's polio vaccine was safe, effective and potent.

For a variety of background on FluMist, including a timeline of Maassab's work, information on the technology transfer arrangement and a list of helpful Web sites related to flu and FluMist: http://www.sph.umich.edu/flumist/. For the MedImmune press release announcing its plans to acquire Aviron: http://investor.medimmune.com/news/20011203-66085.cfm

EDITORS: Photos of John Maassab in his lab are available.

The University of Michigan
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Contact: Colleen Newvine
Phone: 734-647-4411
E-mail: cnewvine@umich.edu
Web: http://www.umich.edu/~newsinfo

University of Michigan

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