VitriVax bags funding for thermostable, single-dose vaccine R&D

VitriVax has raised a series A round to support development of thermostable, single-dose vaccine technology. The platform is designed to eliminate the need for cold storage and condense multidose regimens into a single jab to simplify vaccination campaigns.

As the COVID-19 immunization campaign has exemplified, the need to ship vaccines in controlled conditions and get people to return weeks or months later for a second shot created challenges for public health officials. Fifteen million people in the U.S. have missed their second dose. Cold-chain requirements mean getting any doses to people in some parts of the world is a challenge.

VitriVax wants to tackle both of those problems—and has persuaded Adjuvant Capital to bankroll its plans. Adjuvant Capital, which lists Novartis, Merck and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation among its backers, has provided an undisclosed amount of series A funding to support development.

The money will enable VitriVax to work on technology developed through a collaboration between Robert Garcea, M.D., and Theodore Randolph, Ph.D., at the University of Colorado Boulder. In a paper published last year, the researchers and their collaborators describe the development of single-administration, thermostable human papillomavirus vaccines using coated glassy microparticles.

Now branded ALTA, an acronym of atomic layering thermostable antigen and adjuvant, the platform has two key features. Firstly, spray drying is used to embed antigens and adjuvants in a matrix that is designed to protect them from heat and chemicals. VitriVax says it as kept vaccines at temperatures as high as 70 degrees Celsius for months.

The second feature facilitates the timed release of vaccine doses. By coating antigen and adjuvant microparticles with protective metal oxides, VitriVax is trying to enable the timed release of vaccine doses up to six months after injection. The approach could enable the delivery of doses that prime and boost the immune system in a single shot.

"Reducing temperature requirements and collapsing multidose regimens into a single touch point with the healthcare system has long been a vaccine-delivery goal within the public health community. We believe the ALTA platform has the potential to solve these problems at scale,” Charlie Petty, co-founder and principal at Adjuvant Capital, said in a statement.

Soligenix has licensed technology from VitriVax to improve the thermostability of its clinical-phase ricin vaccine candidate. VitriVax said it has “a number of partnerships with clinical- and commercial-stage pharmaceutical partners across a wide range of disease areas and modalities.”