UK biotech firm Enesi Pharma and The University of Adelaide are working together to accelerate the development of a vaccine for the Zika virus.
The two entities are combining their technologies to develop a world-first, novel needle-free vaccine that will prevent pregnant women from being infected with the virus.
The project will utilise a protective Zika virus DNA vaccine developed by the University of Adelaide with Enesi Pharma’s ImplaVax® technology.
The technology delivers thermostable single solid dose implant containing the vaccine through the skin and into tissue, without using a needle. Once inserted, the implant dissolves, releasing the active ingredient over time and inducing the desired immune response.
The project received A$675,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s Biomedical Translation Bridge Program, which focuses on projects which can lead to commercialisation.
Industry partners Enesi Pharma, The Hospital Research Foundation, the University of Adelaide’s Commercial Accelerator Scheme and Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences provided a further A$675,000 in matched funding.
‘We are delighted to enter this new partnership with the University of Adelaide, and to leverage our ImplaVax® technologies to tackle the significant public health issue that Zika virus infection represents,’ says David Hipkiss, CEO, Enesi Pharma.
Researchers at the University of Adelaide will use the funding to progress the pre-clinical work necessary to take the Zika vaccine to Phase 1 clinical trials. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harvard University and Duke-National University of Singapore.
If successful, there is potential for the combined ImplaVax®–DNA vaccine technology to be rolled-out for other novel vaccination programs.
Professor Anton Middelberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), says the project recognises the outstanding and impactful research taking place at the University of Adelaide.
‘In a time when we need breakthroughs in virus and infection control, it is exciting to see our researchers playing an important role in medical research which stands to benefit people on a global scale,’ he says.