Chiron reports on discovery of novel men B vaccine candidates based on whole genome sequencing of Neisseria meningitidis by TIGR

Emeryville, CA, March 9, 2000 -- Chiron Corporation (Nasdaq: CHIR) today announced that its research team located in Siena, together with collaborators at The Institute for Genomics Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland, and the University of Oxford, have determined the complete genome sequence for Neisseria meningitidis, the bacterium primarily responsible for meningococcal disease. Chiron also reported that it has used this detailed information on the microorganism's genetic structure to identify novel vaccine candidates against meningococcal B disease. This research, reported in the March 10, 2000 issue of Science, demonstrates the important role genomics can play in the development of commercial products.

"Conventional research approaches to develop effective vaccines against different strains of group B meningococcus have failed," said Rino Rappuoli, Ph.D., co-author of the Science papers and Chiron's vice president of vaccine research. "A genomics-based approach is a completely novel paradigm and allowed the discovery of many vaccine candidates which will be used for developing new methods of protection."

Dr. Rappuoli added, "Through this research we also have a better understanding of the disease process. Using these insights, we are creating a vaccine capable of protecting against the broad diversity of invasive strains of this virulent microorganism. This progress could only have been achieved by the collaboration of three groups, each with unique expertise, in sequencing the genome (TIGR), in the biology and pathogenesis of the bacterium (Oxford), and in vaccine development (Chiron)".

Traditional approaches to vaccine development against meningococcal B disease have proved problematic in eliciting a strong immune response against multiple strains of the disease. Using information gained from sequencing the entire genome, researchers were able to identify new surface proteins. These newly discovered proteins behave differen

Contact: Amy Giller
415-677-4455 x206
Noonan/Russo Communications

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