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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.
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