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The Wistar Institute licenses rubella vaccine seed stock to Microgen of Russia

The Wistar Institute announced today that it has licensed the seed stock for its rubella vaccine to Microgen of Russia for a modest fee in the interest of promoting global public health. The Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation, headed by renowned cellist Maestro Mstislav Rostropovich, facilitated communication between the organizations in support of the agreement.

Developed in the 1960s at Wistar, the rubella vaccine has eradicated the disease in the U.S., according to a statement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made in March 2005.

In the Russian Federation and the Newly Independent States (N.I.S.), however, rubella remains a serious problem. The rubella vaccine has not been widely accessible in these countries.

"We are pleased to make available the seed stock of our rubella vaccine to the Russian Federation and the N.I.S.," says Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., president and CEO of The Wistar Institute. "Eradicating rubella is a significant global public health priority, and The Wistar Institute is eager to ensure that the benefits of this vaccine are available to people worldwide."

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is an important cause of severe birth defects. When a woman is infected with the rubella vaccine early in pregnancy, she has a 90 percent chance of passing the virus on to her fetus. The virus can kill the fetus or cause CRS. Although CRS can be a relatively mild disease in children, in fetuses it causes deafness, blindness, mental retardation, and other birth defects.

Scientists at The Wistar Institute began work on the vaccine after a pandemic of rubella swept across Europe and the U.S. in 1963 and 1964, leaving in its wake about 12,000 infants born deaf or deaf and blind. Their rubella vaccine was introduced for use by physicians in 1969, signaling the beginning of the end for the virus in the U.S.

The Vishnevskaya-Rostropovich Foundation encouraged the agreement between Wistar an
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Contact: Franklin Hoke
hoke@wistar.org
215-898-3716
The Wistar Institute
5-Jan-2006


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