Needle-free vaccine gets $15m kickstart

August 2, 2011

Needle-free vaccine technology is one step closer to commercialisation following a $15 million cash injection from a group of international biotechnology companies.

Venture capital firm One Venture is behind the investment into start-up company Vaxxas, which will allow University of Queensland Professor Mark Kendall to continue his development of the revolutionary Nanopatch.

The multi-million dollar boost was made along with co-investors Brandon Capital, the Medial Research Commercialisation Fund and US-based HealthCare Ventures.

Vaxxas will support ongoing research of the Nanopatch, which delivers vaccine to immune cells in the skin instead of the traditional syringe method which injects into the muscle.

Early stage testing in animals so far has shown that a Nanopatch delivered flu vaccine was effective with only 1/150th of the dose compared to a syringe.

In addition to improving the efficiency of delivery, the Nanopatch does not require refrigeration, making transport much cheaper and easier, particularly to developing nations around the world.

As part of this strategy, Dr Paul Kelly of OneVentures, Dr Stephen Thompson of Brandon Capital Partners, and Douglas E Onsi of HealthCare Ventures will join the Board of Directors of Vaxxas, along with UniQuest Life Sciences General Manager Dr Dean Moss.

The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest, has led the commercialisation of the Nanopatch technology to date, and will hand over the responsibility to Vaxxas following this investment.

Brandon Capital Partners Managing Director Dr Stephen Thompson says launching Vaxxas as a company is a critical next step for the Nanopatch technology.

“In Australia, we invest heavily in our excellent research and development capability but have a relatively poor record of taking those technologies to world markets,” Dr Thompson says.

“The syndicate’s investment in Vaxxas is consistent with its willingness to work with Australia’s leading research institutes, including the AIBN, to transform this exciting research effort into a commercially useful product,” he says.

The Nanopatch, which is smaller than the size of a postage stamp and has the potential to be self-applied directly onto the skin, was first conceived in 2003.

It was last year named a finalist in UQ Business School’s $100,000 Enterprize business planning competition.

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