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UQ's Professor Mark Kendall
UQ's Professor Mark Kendall

Vaxxas, a UniQuest start-up company commercialising the novel Nanopatch™ vaccine application system, recently secured US$20 (A$25) million in Series B venture financing from new and existing investors.

The latest investment round brings the total capital raised by the company to A$40 million.

The Nanopatch™ system, developed by Professor Mark Kendall at The University of Queensland, consists of a one centimetre square patch of silicon covered with thousands of vaccine-coated microprojections. While invisible to the naked eye, the projections breach the outer skin to reach the next layer of immune-cell rich skin. As a result the Nanopatch™ can deliver vaccine more effectively, while also being pain-free and needle-free, removing the risk of needle stick injuries to health workers.

In addition, the Nanopatch™ does not require refrigeration, making it cheaper and easier to transport and store, especially in developing countries.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will provide funding to Vaxxas to support its polio vaccination research, specifically for pre-clinical studies and good manufacturing practices (GMP).

"The Nanopatch doesn’t need to be kept refrigerated to maintain its efficacy - a tremendously important factor for the transportation and application of polio vaccine in the remote regions of the world where eradication efforts are most challenging," said David L. Hoey, President and CEO of Vaxxas.

"The research we are undertaking with WHO’s support aims to provide better vaccine solutions to reach all children anywhere with this life-saving health intervention."

Recognising Nanopatch's significant global potential, UniQuest helped drive the commercialisation process by coordinating some 47 presentations between 2008 and 2010, to both industry groups and potential investors around the world.

With strong market interest in the Nanopatch™, UniQuest was able to help secure funding and establish the start-up company – Vaxxas Pty Ltd in 2011. With a syndicate of three investors secured, UniQuest managed the due diligence issues necessary for the business to secure $15 million to fund human clinical testing and product development. This was Australia's second largest first round investment in a university start-up company.

Today, Vaxxas has established a commercialisation office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to expand access to global pharmaceutical partners and complement the company's research and development operations based in Queensland. UniQuest's Dr Dean Moss and Dr Mark Ashton are on the Vaxxas Board.