Vaxxas Gets $20M Injection to Test Needle-Free Vaccines in Humans

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marketed vaccines from larger companies, or experimental ones that smaller companies are developing, and which its technology might be able to improve. In the latter case, it might share the development costs and profits or even pay for full rights take on the clinical costs on its own.

This deal-centric focus is why Vaxxas established an office in Cambridge. While most of the company’s operations are still in Australia—all of its 25 employees and research work—Hoey spends most of his time in the biotech/pharma hotbed of Cambridge, doing outreach.

“Within 20 minutes of my house there’s about 50 percent of the world’s vaccine R&D,” he says.

Still, Vaxxas has some competition for partners, because it isn’t the only company with a needle-free vaccine technology. The FDA approved the first non-needle flu vaccine last year; it utilizes a jet injector developed by PharmaJet, of King of Prussia, PA. Other companies like Fremont, CA-based Zosano Pharma (NASDAQ: ZSPH); Menlo Park, CA-based Corium International (NASDAQ: CORI); and a unit of the conglomerate 3M; all have different microneedle-based approaches that can be used to deliver drugs. And others, like Cambridge-based startup Vaxess Technologies, are approaching the vaccine cold-storage problem with different solutions. Hoey says that there has been minimal penetration into the vaccine market, however—and it’s his contention that Vaxxas’s technology can generate a greater immune response than its competitors.

“People have not been doing head to head comparisons amongst patches, but if you look across the literature using comparable vaccines, the way we would extrapolate it is we think that our ability to be highly immunogenic is better than the other patches that we see in the market,” Hoey says.

That has to be proven, of course. Hoey is citing studies Vaxxas has done in rats and pigs; it has a prototype patch for humans, but it hasn’t been tested yet. That’s where the Series B cash comes in; it’ll fund Vaxxas’s first human study, in Australia, and should carry the company forward for the next three years.

“This puts us in a great position for the next couple of years,” Hoey says.

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2 responses to “Vaxxas Gets $20M Injection to Test Needle-Free Vaccines in Humans”

  1. Undecider says:

    This is a step towards safer vaccinations. The “anti-vaccination” crowd has legitimate concerns as they do not want to be contaminated with or exposed to dangerous ingredients, adjuvants and preservatives. All of which have been demonstrated as a cause for undesirable adverse reactions. Just read the “insert”! Using a patch can go a long way to limit this exposure.

    My curiosity would be to see a complete list of ingredients that would transfer transdermally. Moreover, any long term studies would be worth reading. In nature, we are exposed to viruses. Not normally viruses plus additives. The safest vaccines would be those that emulate nature the closest. The needle-borne vaccines available to the general public are the least safe because they are practically nothing like what we’d be exposed to on a normal basis. Direct injection into the bloodstream with all the additives is madness.

    Transdermal, comparitively speaking, seems like a lot better option. Let’s hope they don’t spike these with all the usual sterilants and neurologically embolizing agents.

    • ImmuneResponse says:

      If you read this study Undecider, you might be disappointed. Fernando GJP, Chen X, Primero CA, Yukiko SR, Fairmaid EJ, Corbett HJ,
      Frazer IH, Brown LE, Kendall MAF. (2012) Nanopatch targeted delivery of
      both antigen and adjuvant to skin synergistically drives enhanced
      antibody responses. Journal of Controlled Release 159(2), 215-221.