As reported in Xconomy, profit-minded Craig Venter partnered with non-profit Craig Venter Institute to form Synthetic Genomics. Synthetic Genomics in turn is collaborating with Novartis to create next generation synthetic vaccines. The collaboration currently has a three year term and is specifcally aimed at the development of influenza seed strains needed for vaccine manufacturing. The collaboration with Novartis is supported by an award from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
Novartis and Synthetic Genomics Vaccines plan to establish a “bank” of synthetically created seed viruses to the seasonal flu strains of concern to WHO. Currently, the WHO distributes live reference viruses after they have been identified to major vaccine manufacturers - like Novartis - thus their interest for an inside track so to speak. Synthetic Genomics says a "synthetic bank" could reduce vaccine production time by as much as two months - valuable in a pandemic.
I think this sounds cool. It is good to see vaccines takng front and center again in health care and in particular to see innovative approaches being applied after years of processes and methods "being locked down" in this field. The financial incentive s back and so is the innovation. Good!