Spinout raises £680,000 to speed development of novel vaccines

The Vaccine Group, a University of Plymouth spinout company, has raised £680,000 in equity funding to enhance its research into novel vaccine technologies.

Created to commercialise the work of Dr Michael Jarvis, Associate Professor (Reader) in Virology and Immunology, the company is currently involved in high profile research projects examining some of the world’s most deadly diseases.

The additional funding, which values The Vaccine Group at £9.5million, will be used to accelerate development and expand the range of vaccines used to combat zoonotic diseases that jump from animals into humans.

These include Ebola, bird flus and SARs as well as those that impact economically important livestock, such as bovine tuberculosis. TVG also is interested in targeting diseases that do not infect humans but remain devastating for livestock such as African swine fever, which is currently decimating world pig populations.

The company’s vaccines are based on safe forms of herpesviruses, which occur in nearly all animals including humans. They are created by inserting regions of the targeted pathogen DNA into the herpesvirus, which then stimulates an immune response against the disease when delivered into the animal.

Dr Jarvis, the company’s founder and chief scientific officer, said:

“This initial round of equity funding provides an exciting opportunity to apply this novel vaccine platform towards additional livestock pathogens and deadly zoonotic diseases in humans. Given the much shorter time to market, vaccines designed to interrupt emergence of zoonotic diseases in animals before they spread to humans is becoming regarded as a quicker and more cost-effective way to protect human health.”

During 2018 and 2019, various international governments have provided grant funding of more than £9million to programmes involving The Vaccine Group.

The company is playing a central role in the development of vaccine strategies to prevent zoonotic transmission of Ebola, Lassa fever and other deadly viruses that jump from animals into humans.

Dr Jarvis and Professor Mat Upton were awarded a grant by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to develop a vaccine to prevent the spread of Streptococcus suis.

The Vaccine Group also secured funding from the global Bacterial Vaccine Network to support the development of a vaccine to combat mastitis in cows.

The equity funding was supported by Frontier IP, the University of Plymouth’s commercialisation partner, which owns a 17% stake in the company.

Frontier IP chief executive Neil Crabb said:

“TVG’s novel technology has huge potential to address some of the most pressing global health challenges we are facing today. The World Health Organisation has repeatedly warned about the pandemic threat from zoonotic diseases. Vaccines also have a critical role to play in protecting people from antibiotic resistant bacteria. We’re delighted the company has successfully completed its first funding round and would like to thank investors for their support.”

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