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Funding to spur E. coli vaccine production

Biotech firm Bioniche Life Sciences of Belleville, Ont., plans to use $2 million in Ontario government funding to build up production of a vaccine expected to cut down levels of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria in cattle.

The vaccine, which is “indicated” to reduce the amount of E. coli bacteria cattle shed in their dung, will be the first product to come out of the company’s animal health and food safety vaccine manufacturing centre at Belleville. Other public funding partners for the centre include the Belleville city government and Eastern Lake Ontario Regional Innovation Network.

The company said in a provincial press release that other livestock vaccines will also be made at the centre. Under phase one of its E. coli vaccine project, Bioniche said it plans to provide enough vaccine for the North American market, to be followed in phase two by a new manufacturing plant to supply export markets in Europe and elsewhere around the world.

Bioniche CEO Graeme McRae said the company has committed to commercializing its E. coli vaccine from Canada.

The company picked up conditional authorization in 2006 from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to distribute its vaccine to Canadian veterinarians for field use. Full authorization is still pending while CFIA reviews data that Bioniche provided this spring to confirm that vaccinated cattle shed reduced levels of E. coli.

With production already underway at Belleville, the company announced August 24 that its first permit was issued and first order sold, while the product remains under both CFIA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) review.

CFIA’s permit system allows cattle producers, through their veterinarians, to file permit requests with CFIA for Bioniche to supply said veterinarians with the vaccine.

The province’s funding, allocated from its rural economic development program, is among the latest in a steady stream of funding announcements by the McGuinty government in the lead-up to the October 10 provincial election.

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