US pharma giant backs UoQ vaccination device in A$18 million boost

11 Jun 2020

Australia’s reputation as a pharmaceuticals innovator has gained a boost, with US-based Merck Inc. (MSD) and Germany’s Harro Höfliger announcing an A$18 million investment in vaccine technology company, Vaxxas.

Vaxxas was spun out of the University of Queensland in 2011 and has created a subcutaneous micro-injection technology called HD-MAP. A HD-MAP vaccination uses tens of thousands of minute projections to deliver a vaccine to immune cells just beneath the skin’s surface.

The HD-MAP technology has the potential to increase the efficiency of vaccination programs, as it significantly reduces the need for vaccination refrigeration and storage. This means more patient doses can be produced from limited vaccine quantities.

Vaxxas has also announced an alliance with Harro Höfliger, a German pharmaceutical manufacturing company, to develop a production line. The plant will have the potential to manufacture thousands of HD-MAP vaccines per week.

Daria Hazuda, Vice President Infectious Diseases and Vaccines Discovery at MSD, welcomed the move.

‘We are pleased with the progress seen to date in our collaboration with Vaxxas and look forward to advancing the first candidate towards clinical development,’ she said.

The investment means Vaxxas will receive A$18 million in a combination of equity funding and option fees under the collaboration agreement originally signed in 2012.

MSD will fund any requested additional research activities conducted by Vaxxas and is responsible for clinical development. Merck gains the rights to develop and commercialise Vaxxas’ HD-MAP technology.

Vaxxas venture capital backers include local companies OneVentures, Brandon Capital and US fund HealthCare Ventures.