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Emergex secures funds in race to develop universal flu vaccine

Published on 15/05/18 at 08:36am

UK-based biotech, Emergex Vaccines, has received £1 million to push its universal flu vaccine through preclinical tests, in the hope of progressing the candidate through to the clinic as quickly as possible.

The biotech will receive £979,318 as part of Innovate UK’s mandate of working with people, companies and partner organisation to drive science and technology innovations.

The reason the innovation agency is particularly interested in Emergex is the work the biotech is currently doing to develop a universal flu vaccine that could be used to treat individuals during an influenza pandemic, on top of being able to be used as a vaccine prior to exposure, regardless of the influenza virus.

Emergex potential vaccine would be 100% synthetic and able to deliver peptide fragments from the flu virus to cells in the skin, according to the biotech this would develop a “strong and long-lasting T-cell immune response”.

The peptide fragments are combined with a gold nanotechnology carrier system, which is able to create a particle of 5 nanometres in diameter.

This means that the vaccine can be delivered through a microneedle skin patch, a new innovation that does away with the traditional subcutaneous needle injection.

Professor Thomas Rademacher, Co-founder, CEO and CSO at Emergex commented, “This Innovate UK grant provides endorsement of our flu vaccine programme and reinforces our belief that an innovative approach, using the very latest technologies, could help protect the public from this inevitable epidemic or pandemic health threat.”

The biotech hopes to push through preclinical tests to have a Phase 1 trial of the vaccine begin in 2020.

Besides developing a vaccine for influenza, Emergex is also working on its lead candidate that is a vaccine candidate that could protect against Zika, dengue and yellow fever.

This candidate is expected to enter Phase 1 clinical trials by the first quarter of 2019 and would offer significant hope for vaccination programs in lower-income countries that struggle with all three of these flaviviruses, such as in South America.

Ben Hargreaves

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