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A revolution in nanotech helps create a new vaccine delivery system that could literally change the world

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Could this be the validation Cool Company Award winner Vaxxas needs?

At the World Vaccine Congress in Washington, D.C., the Queensland company developing a needle-free vaccine delivery system was judged the Best Venture Capital Investment. The honour was part of the 2012 Vaccine Industry Excellence Awards.

Last year, Vaxxas, led by University of Queensland’s Prof. Michael Kendall, won a $15 million syndicated investment from OneVentures, Brandon Capital Partners, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and the U.S.-based HealthCare Ventures.

Dr. Paul Kelly, OneVentures partner and chairman of Vaxxas, accepted the award on behalf of the investors and the company.

Douglas Onsi, managing director of HealthCare Ventures, called the award “a tribute to Professor Kendall and the team in his lab at the AIBN who invented and developed the breakthrough Nanopatch technology and to UniQuest who provided the managerial and intellectual property support.”

Breakthrough innovation

“A venture investment is only as good as its underlying technology and people, and this award represents recognition from the global vaccine industry of Professor Kendall and his team’s accomplishments in solving some of the major issues in vaccine delivery,” he said. “The entire syndicate looks forward to seeing the Nanopatch technology advance towards testing in patients.”

Kendall, a former Oxford University professor, and his team at University of Queensland’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology are developing the Nanopatch as an alternative to needle-based vaccine delivery systems. The Nanopatch has been called the biggest breakthrough in vaccine delivery since the invention of the syringe in 1853. Its advantages go way beyond just helping the needle-phobic.

The patch, containing thousands of small projections, is designed to deliver the vaccine to abundant immune cells in the skin, enhancing its efficacy. Early testing in animals has demonstrated a flu vaccine delivered via the Nanopatch to be 150 times more effective than the syringe, and may not require the additional adjuvants required to enhance the vaccine’s response. Even more significantly, the Nanopatch doesn’t require refrigeration, enabling it to be easily transported across vast swathes of the developing world that is in most need of vaccines.

The Nanopatch is expected to be used to deliver vaccines for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Human Simplex Virus (HSV 2), Chikungunya and West Nile Virus. Kendall’s research has been supported by research grants from Queensland’s Smart State program, the Australian Research Council, National Health and Medical Research Council, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Kendall has worked on the Nanopatch for the past eight years, starting from the time when he was at Oxford. In 2006, he returned to Australia, accepting the role of professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Queensland. He was awarded a Smart State Fellowship in 2006 – with the government giving $300,000 and UQ a further $960,000. He also has received more than $1.2 million under the Innovation Projects Fund.

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