FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—April 9, 2013
Prepared Statement from J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., and the J. Craig Venter Institute and Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc. on the H7N9 avian flu strain in China
"In response to a request from the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and after the H7N9 flu virus gene sequences were made publicly available through the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) and Synthetic Genomics Vaccines, Inc (SGVI) began working with Novartis to synthesize the genes of the new viral strain and supplied these synthesized genes to the CDC. The early availability of these synthetic genes could more rapidly and effectively assist in a global response to an emerging flu strain. SGVI/JCVI and Novartis are closely following the situation in China and are engaged in dialogue with the appropriate global organizations to aid the situation as it evolves," said Dr. Venter, CEO and Founder, JCVI; CEO, Founder and Chairman, Synthetic Genomics Inc.
In 2010 SGVI announced a BARDA-sponsored collaboration with Novartis to apply synthetic genomics tools and technologies to accelerate the production of the influenza seed strains required for vaccine manufacturing. The seed strain is the starter culture of a virus, and is the base from which larger quantities of the vaccine virus can be grown. SGVI, in cooperation with its affiliate companies, Synthetic Genomics Inc. and SGI-DNA, has continued to develop new technologies to rapidly and accurately synthesize genes and genomes of any size. JCVI scientists along with researchers at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) and 44 academic institutions recently announced that they had sequenced and published more than 10,000 influenza virus genomes as part of the Influenza Virus Genome Sequencing Project (IGSP) of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). JCVI scientists have sequenced approximately 75 percent of the influenza virus genomes available in GenBank.
Heather Kowalski, hkowalski(AT)jcvi.org or 858-361-0466.