Bioniche Appoints U.S. President of Food Safety
- Dr. Gary Weber, formerly of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and USDA -
BELLEVILLE, ON, April 21, 2008 – Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. (TSX: BNC), a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, today announced that it has appointed Dr. Gary Weber as President, Bioniche Food Safety (U.S.).
Dr. Weber brings a wealth of experience to this position, having worked for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as National Program Leader for Animal Science; the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as Director of Animal Health, Inspection and Science Policy and Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs; and most recently, as a self-employed consultant assisting select clientele to deal effectively with the forces of change affecting the food and agriculture sector in the U.S. Dr. Weber holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Animal Science from Purdue University and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University.
“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Weber to the Bioniche team,” said Rick Culbert, President of Bioniche Food Safety (global). “Dr. Weber joins us at an important time in our Food Safety development program, with our lead product entering Canadian and U.S. markets. This product is the world’s first vaccine to be used as an on-farm intervention to reduce the amount of E. coli O157:H7 shed by cattle.”
In February of this year, Bioniche received notice from the USDA that the latest data for its E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine “meets the ‘expectation of efficacy’ standard” and is eligible for a conditional license in the U.S. The Company previously received authorization from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to provide the vaccine to Canadian veterinarians under the Permit to Release Veterinary Biologics regulations.
“Dr. Weber is an important asset to our Company as we work to meet the expectations for a conditional license for our E. coli O157:H7 vaccine in the U.S.,” said Graeme McRae, President & CEO of Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. “His knowledge of the regulatory environment and cattle industry will be invaluable to us in the coming months as we prepare to enter the U.S. market with this important on-farm intervention for E. coli risk reduction.”
Bioniche and its collaborators have been moving the E. coli O157:H7 vaccine towards commercial availability for eight years and it has been extensively tested at the University Nebraska-Lincoln, with efficacy results now being published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, most recently, the Journal of Food Protection, in November, 2007. The E. coli O157:H7 cattle vaccine will be manufactured in the Bioniche production facility in Belleville, Ontario, Canada where a two-year, $25 million expansion is taking place. Vaccine supply will be limited during this manufacturing expansion period.
Food recalls due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination continue to be a concern in beef, produce and prepared food. On-farm interventions to reduce the shedding of E. coli O157:H7 by cattle, such as vaccination, may assist in reducing the potential for food and water contamination and the resulting human illnesses and deaths.
Approximately 100,000 cases of human infection with the E. coli O157:H7 organism are reported each year in North America. 2% to 7% of those people develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease characterized by kidney failure (in recent outbreaks, this percentage has risen to as high as 16%). Five percent of HUS patients die, many of them children and senior citizens, whose kidneys are more sensitive to damage.
In addition to being infected by contaminated food or water, individuals can become infected from E. coli O157:H7 by visiting animal exhibits. Petting zoos, fairs, and agricultural exhibits provide many possible routes of transmission for E. coli. Direct animal contact is the obvious route, but contact with contaminated products (e.g., sawdust, shavings, soiled clothing or shoes) can also lead to human infection.
About the E. coli O157:H7 Cattle Vaccine
This vaccine received international recognition in September, 2007 by the Animal Pharm Industry Excellence Awards as the best new veterinary product for livestock globally. The vaccine has been developed by a strategic alliance formed in 2000 between the University of British Columbia (UBC), the Alberta Research Council (ARC), the University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO), and Bioniche, which holds the rights for worldwide commercialization of the vaccine. The vaccine prevents the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria from attaching to the intestines of vaccinated cattle, thereby reducing their reproduction within the animal, and reducing the amount of bacteria that can be released through cattle manure in the environment. More than 30,000 cattle have been involved in clinical testing of the vaccine over the past five years.
About Bioniche Life Sciences Inc.
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc. is a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, manufacturing, and marketing of proprietary products for human and animal health markets worldwide. The fully-integrated company employs approximately 200 skilled personnel and has three operating divisions: Human Health, Animal Health, and Food Safety. The Company’s primary goal is to develop proprietary cancer therapies supported by revenues from marketed products in human and animal health. Bioniche has been named one of Canada’s Top Ten Life Sciences Companies for 2008. For more information, please visit www.Bioniche.com.
Except for historical information, this news release may contain forward-looking statements that reflect the Company’s current expectation regarding future events. These forward-looking statements involve risk and uncertainties, which may cause, but are not limited to, changing market conditions, the successful and timely completion of clinical studies, the establishment of corporate alliances, the impact of competitive products and pricing, new product development, uncertainties related to the regulatory approval process, and other risks detailed from time to time in the Company’s ongoing quarterly and annual reporting.
For further information, please contact:
Jennifer Shea, Corporate Communications, Investor & Government Relations Director
Bioniche Life Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (613) 966-8058
Cell: (613) 391-2097