UK biotechnology company, Acambis, is chasing another US Department of Health and Human Services contract after the latter issued a tender for 80 million doses of modified vaccinia ankara - a weakened form of smallpox vaccine. Acambis is developing MVA3000 together with Baxter for use in people unable to receive traditional immunization against the disease.

The company secured a deal with the US Government last year for MVA [[30/09/04c]], helping it retain its prominence in this field after an earlier contract for its predecessor smallpox vaccine failed to complete [[20/09/04b]]. These valuable signings had helped Acambis to record its maiden profit in 2003 [[11/03/03f]].

Acambis has thus far been awarded two contracts by the US National Institutes for Health for MVA3000: the first, worth $9.2 million, was awarded in February 2003 and was followed with a second contract in September 2004 worth up to $131 million [[30/09/04c]]. MVA3000 has entered Phase II development in 700 healthy adults, half of whom have previously been vaccinated against smallpox.

The US plans to build a stockpile of MVA as part of its defence against the threat of smallpox virus being used as a bioterrorist weapon. 20 million doses will be procured within two years of a contract being awarded, with options for an additional 60 million doses over the longer-term.

The deadline for submission of proposals is the end of September, and the contract will be awarded in February next year.