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Notable achievement: Raising $15 million, the most ever by a start-up biotechnology/medical devices company
Prevention is better than cure, and cheaper, which is why 1.6 billion doses of various vaccines were administered around the world last year – at a cost of $US21 billion.
However, the technology that delivers vaccines, the needle and syringe, is fraught with risks, complications and limitations. A new Australian company, Vaxxas, is leading the world in the next generation of vaccine delivery – it’s called the Nanopatch.
The needle is better than it was when it was first used in 1853 but no one really likes a jab. That pain is an impediment for adults and children and stops some returning for booster shots. Training is needed to give an injection safely and effectively.
And, as Mark Kendall, the pioneer of the Nanopatch, has established, vaccine injections deliver the treatment into muscles, which have few immune cells. The Nanopatch has thousands of small projections designed to deliver the vaccine to the abundant immune cells in the skin.
The race to develop a vaccine patch is intense, but past efforts have foundered at the manufacturing stage, according to Paul Kelly, an investment manager with OneVentures, the lead venture capital company backing Vaxxas.
“The problem is finding a way to manufacture the patches and coat them with vaccine in industrial quantities,” he says. “We believe we have a very strong intellectual property position for manufacturing at scale.”
OneVentures co-invested with Brandon Capital, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and HealthCare Ventures, an American company that has invested $US1.6 billion in more than 100 companies over 25-plus years.
The $15 million will take the Nanopatch into human trials. All investors have committed to contributing the same amount in a second round if necessary, putting the start-up on a good footing to negotiate with tough global pharmaceutical companies.