Vaccine to prevent deadly infections in Canada’s North reaches manufacturing milestone

December 14, 2017 – Ottawa, ON – Children and immunocompromised adults at risk of Haemophilus influenzae type a (Hia) bacterial infections are one step closer to having access to a vaccine that will help protect them from the potentially deadly infection. The vaccine developed by the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has been licensed to InventVacc Biologicals Inc. for manufacturing in preparation for clinical trials.

Each year in Canada, especially in the North and in Indigenous communities, hundreds of infants and immunocompromised adults are at risk of Hia. The bacterial infection can result in pneumonia, lethal meningitis, septic arthritis, and bloodstream infections.

PHAC scientists at the National Microbiology Laboratory studied the epidemiology and microbiology of Hia infection, and identified the need for a vaccine for Canada’s northern populations. These scientists, in collaboration with NRC researchers, developed a vaccine solution. PHAC scientists developed the seed strain of the bacterium needed for the clinical production of the vaccine, while NRC researchers developed the process to grow the bacterium inside a steel fermentation tank, isolated the portion of the bacterium needed for the vaccine, and attached it to a carrier protein that enables it to be recognized by the immune system of infants.

The National Research Council, Public Health Agency, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Health Canada are participating in workshops held annually to discuss and engage in the vaccine’s development and eventual implementation. Representatives from First Nations, Inuit and Métis organizations have outlined their respective engagement processes. Clinical trials are expected to begin in 2019, and if successful, the vaccine could be made available by 2022.


“As part of our collaborative approach to solving big challenges and facilitating the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada, the NRC is proud to be working with InventVacc Biologicals Inc. and the Public Health Agency of Canada to bring such a critical vaccine to market,” says Mr. Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada. “This important collaboration will help children in Canada’s northernmost communities.”

“The development of this vaccine is a prime example of the scientific excellence that comes from Government of Canada scientists,” says Dr. Roman Szumski, Vice President of Life Sciences at the National Research Council of Canada. “This joint initiative demonstrates how collaboration can accelerate the pace of discovery and result in potential life-saving innovations through vaccination.”

“This vaccine, which we have been developing over the last five years, can contribute to preventing deadly infections for infants at risk of Hia in Canada,” says Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada “We are pleased to see the vaccine progress to the next stage in development.”

“InventVacc is pleased to contribute over four decades of vaccine manufacturing expertise to the manufacturing of the Hia vaccine. Working with the NRC, PHAC, Health Canada, and CIHR, we believe we can be ready to initiate clinical trials within the next 12 months,” said Dr. Subhash Kapre, Chairman of InventVacc. “Together we can offer protection to the infants and children most vulnerable to Hia infections in Canada and other parts of the world.”

Quick Facts

  • Since the late 1990s, there has been an emergence of Hia infections, especially in Indigenous communities in the northern regions of Canada and Alaska associated with significant morbidity and approximately a 10% mortality rate.
  • A total of 102 Hia cases have been observed since 2007, an average of 12.5 cases per year, with territorial referrals representing one-third of the cases.
  • Most Hia cases were observed in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Montréal hospitals, which serve as referral centres for Canada’s territories.
  • InventVacc Biologics Inc. and its parent company Inventprise specialize in developing and manufacturing vaccines for unmet needs. The president of the firm, Dr. Subhash Kapre, led the development of the MenAfrivac vaccine to prevent Meningococcal A epidemics in Africa.

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