The UK’s Acambis has sealed a major deal to supply the US government with its smallpox vaccine.

The Cambridge-based company, which has also announced its financial results for last year, said that it has been awarded a $425 million, ten-year contract by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide it with a warm-base manufacturing capability for the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine which has been stockpiled by the US Government. The CDC will procure at least nine million doses per year from Acambis in years three to ten and the structure of the contract allows the US agency to purchase up to 39 million doses in contract years five to ten. This would increase the value of the deal to approximately $660 million.

This financial boost will come in very handy for Acambis which posted a pretax loss of £31.3 million for 2007, nearly double its loss from the previous year. Sales were down to £9.5 million from £30.9 million but more cash is coming in, as Acambis is looking to raise £40 million through a placing and open offer of around 37.7 million new shares, priced at £1.15 pence each.

News of the placing and vaccine deal sent Acambis shares up and went down well with analysts. Lehman Brothers issued a research note saying that focus will now move to the firm’s vaccine pipeline, “largely partnered with Sanofi Pasteur, which we believe is substantially undervalued by the current share price". Acambis linked up with the French drugmaker to help speed up the time to approval of its West Nile vaccine ChimeriVax, which, it says, is the leading candidate currently in development.