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Sep 23, 2020, 08:30 ET
PLYMOUTH, Mich., Sept. 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Esperovax, the leader in Egress RD™ Oral Biologics has been awarded $607,000 in funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to further studies into the feasibility of oral vaccine production and delivery.
Esperovax has developed a proprietary method for bioengineering probiotic yeast to deliver continuous and high concentrations of vaccine antigen in the gut. These antigens are delivered as enveloped, virus-like particles (eVLPs) directly into the lymphoid tissue of the intestinal mucosa, the innermost layer of the gastrointestinal tract, which may induce strong immune protection.
"Our oral vaccine approach is unlike anything available today, and could possibly bring greater efficacy, efficiency and safety," said Roger S. Newton, PhD, founder of Esperovax. "As the Northern Hemisphere enters another flu season, we look forward to applying our oral vaccines in the very near future to fight influenza and, potentially, a host of other illnesses and maladies."
Esperovax's biotech utilizes common baker's yeast to produce vaccines in less than two weeks. This technology means billions of doses could potentially be manufactured in less than a month. This oral vaccine will not require costly purification, cold storage or delivery devices (i.e. syringes), so each dose could be economically produced and self-administered via pill or edibles.
Added Newton: "With this new oral vaccine platform, Esperovax is poised to become the global leader in oral tablet and capsule vaccinations for some of the world's deadliest yet treatable diseases. That means saving countless lives. We're working hard to make that a reality."
BARDA is providing subject matter expertise and funds to Esperovax, for use in preclinical studies.
For more information, visit: https://esperovax.com/
This event is hosted by Ann Arbor SPARK.
New vaccine delivery technologies could provide individuals with a broader range of options for immunization, including ones that are easier to use and potentially more effective than traditional vaccination with needle and syringe. With the potential for self-administration, these technologies could also expand the range of available care settings, allowing for wider coverage and ultimately improving the capability to reach herd immunity for many diseases.
BARDA will explore the feasibility of two innovative approaches with four new partners: Esperovax, Inc., the University of Connecticut, Vaxess Technologies, and Verndari, Inc. The novel routes of administration they are developing could reduce the dependence on needles and syringes that are used to deliver vaccine via intramuscular injection. Instead, a wearable skin patch or oral option for vaccines may support rapid, large-scale immunization while reducing the strain on the manufacturing supply chain.
The Egress RDTM mRNA oral cellular delivery technology from Esperovax, Inc. is a technology aiming to provide a cost-effective immunization that improves uptake with the potential for self-administration.
The other vaccine technologies – from the University of Connecticut, Vaxess and Verndari – collectively known as Micro Array Patches (MAP), would deliver vaccine using a microneedle patch worn on the skin as an alternative to standard inoculation.
With support from BARDA, the four partners will each advance the development of their respective products, formulate and optimize materials, and demonstrate their ability to effectively administer vaccine. If successful, these technologies could have a profound impact on the potential to offer better options to improve vaccine coverage.
About the companies:
The following information is provided by company and does not indicate endorsement by the federal government of the company or its products.
Esperovax looks to become the global leader in oral tablet/capsule vaccinations for some of the world's deadliest treatable diseases by leveraging its new oral vaccine platform. Their delivery system holds the potential to provide billions of doses annually that could be delivered by mail and consumed directly by the consumer without the need to visit a healthcare setting. The oral platform holds a potential for significant expansion of vaccination to the most vulnerable and in need, at a fraction of traditional cost.
The University of Connecticut (UConn):
Dr. Nguyen and his lab at UConn have developed a process to manufacture a vaccine microneedle (MN) skin patch that only requires single-time administration to automatically deliver vaccine antigens repeatedly, similar to the use of multiple bolus injections, over a long period. They have shown that the MNs can deliver a clinical vaccine of Prevnar-13 against the pneumococcal infection (which causes pneumonia like COVID-19). They have started the study on the S-protein from a small urgent funding from UConn, School of Engineering to test/stabilize the S-protein (as a COVID-19 vaccine) in their MNs, and evaluate the antigenicity of the vaccine MNs (with only single administration) for a long-term immune-protection in an animal model.
Vaxess Technologies, Inc.:
Vaxess is developing next-generation vaccines that are not only more protective but also more accessible for people at home and around the world. Vaxess is developing its proprietary MIMIX™ therapies based on technology originally developed at Tufts University and MIT. With just minutes of wear-time, the shelf-stable, self-applied MIMIX™ patch enables sustained release of treatments in the skin over weeks to months. Vaxess is a venture-funded company that is also supported by the NIH, NSF, and DARPA.
Verndari, Inc. was founded in 2015 with the goal of transforming global health through next generation vaccine development and delivery. The privately held company based in Napa, California, aims to treat existing and emerging diseases, with rapid response to new viral threats such as COVID-19 as well as to produce more effective vaccinations for existing viruses, such as influenza, enabling delivery at lower cost to populations around the world. Verndari’s unique VaxiPatch™, a single-dose vaccination kit using a microneedle dermal technology, offers advantages that include dose sparing, improved efficacy, and pain-free delivery - while making vaccine administration much simpler. The technology eliminates the need for refrigeration and facilitates high-volume automated manufacturing of vaccines. Through innovation in vaccine science, Verndari aims to address many different diseases and to save countless lives. For more information on Verndari, please visit https://verndariinc.com.
[Traverse City, MI – August 10, 2020] Northern Michigan Angels (NMA) has invested $117,500 in Esperovax (https://esperovax.com/), a biotechnology company based in Plymouth, Michigan. The company has developed a novel oral vaccine platform that will enable large-scale production and distribution of vaccines at a fraction of the cost of current injection-based treatments.
Esperovax is currently in pre-clinical studies of its oral COVID-19 vaccine. Plans exist to apply its technology to an oral flu vaccine and other much-needed biologic treatments.
Vaccination is the most effective method for reducing and preventing human disease. Unfortunately, many vaccinations today can only be delivered through direct injection by a healthcare professional, which limits the number of patients that can be treated.
Injectable vaccines are expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, and potentially painful to administer, which complicates large-scale, global treatment programs. Esperovax looks to become the global leader in oral tablet/capsule vaccinations for some of the world's deadliest treatable diseases by leveraging its new oral vaccine platform.
Their oral vaccines will enable administration of billions of prescription-based doses annually, that can be delivered by mail and taken orally by the consumer without intervention by healthcare professionals. This platform will lead to the significant expansion of vaccination for the most vulnerable and in need, at a fraction of the cost for current methods.
"The NMA investment into Esperovax has significantly accelerated our plans to demonstrate the utility of our oral biologicals platform. We look forward to the continued support and guidance that the NMA team provides to our growing Company”, said David O’Hagan, CEO of Esperovax.
About Esperovax (https://esperovax.com/)
Esperovax is a pre-clinical-stage, privately-held biotechnology company focused on developing vaccines and other biologic treatments using its proprietary oral delivery platform. Esperovax has developed a proprietary method for bioengineering probiotic yeast to deliver continuous and high concentrations of vaccine antigen in the gut. These antigens are delivered in the form of enveloped virus-like particles (eVLPs) right to the lymphoid tissue of the small intestine, inducing strong immune protection. David O’Hagan-Ph.D., Esperovax Founder, President and CEO
About Northern Michigan Angels (https://www.northernmichiganangels.com/)
Northern Michigan Angels is a 501 c(6) non-profit organization whose mission is to help grow the economic base of the region through investment in scalable early stage companies, and to provide members a compelling financial return on their time commitment and invested capital. Since its founding in 2012 NMA members have invested over $5.5M in 35 early stage companies, several located in Traverse City, MI. Investments have been in companies representing a broad range of industries, all located in the State of Michigan.
A total of 58 early-stage tech companies are receiving direct investments or loans from the state’s Tech Startup Stabilization Fund to assist them during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today. Announced in mid-April, the Tech Startup Stabilization Fund has been administered by ID Ventures in Detroit to support early-stage tech companies in Michigan with fewer than 50 employees and a demonstrated need for support due to the economic impacts of the pandemic.
“This outbreak presented unprecedented challenges for businesses of all sizes over the past three months, and we are proud to help support Michigan’s small businesses to not only survive COVID-19, but continue innovating long after,” said Mark A. Burton, CEO of MEDC. “The technologies and discoveries these small businesses are pursuing will have an invaluable impact on our ability to strengthen and rebuild our state’s economy over the coming months as we work to enable economic prosperity across all corners of our state.”
The Tech Startup Stabilization Fund prioritized support for early-stage companies that are headquartered in Michigan and that demonstrated a strong customer value proposition, comprised a team with proven execution capability, and pre-COVID-19 were on a path for an additional round of funding, in addition to other criteria. Support through the fund ranged from $10,000 to $125,000 depending on demonstrated need and allowed recipients to retain their workforce, advance vital high-tech research initiatives and support operating costs, in addition to meeting other critical needs.
Among the 58 high-tech companies to receive support through the fund, many represent regionally diverse areas in the state, including Houghton and Hancock in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Grand Rapids, Jackson and Troy. While 53% of the companies represent the advanced information technology sector, the range of industries represented includes life sciences, mobility and advanced manufacturing – all key industries within the MEDC’s overall strategic plan.
Based out of Ann Arbor, for example, the mobility company Bedestrian provides a last mile driverless delivery system, offering autonomous, robotic deliveries within and around hospital and healthcare facilities. With support from the Tech Startup Stabilization Fund, Bedestrian has been able to sustain the economic impacts of the outbreak while leveraging its autonomous delivery vehicle to support frontline workers and accelerating the development of its solution to meet the delivery needs for hospitals throughout Michigan communities. In doing so, Bedestrian is minimizing the amount of person-to-person contact and mitigating the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I’m very glad that Bedestrian is among the roster of innovative companies to receive an award from the Tech Startup Stabilization Fund. And I’m thankful to the ID Ventures team’s efficient administration of this fund at this critical time,” said Bedestrian CEO Shadi T. Mere. “This fund shows that Michigan is responding proactively, not only to weather COVID-19, but to help innovative startups emerge stronger and spur the next economic growth cycle.”