This article was originally published in Start Up
VaxInnate is linking the innate and adaptive immune response to get the optimal action from a vaccine. Work done in the Yale labs of company founders demonstrated that fusing a polypeptide ligand specific for a TLR to an antigen of interest generates a vaccine that may prove more potent and selective than the antigen alone. It also eliminates the need for formulating the vaccine in complex adjuvants-and it opens the door to production using simplified recombinant methods.
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Medicines to fight significant global health problems are scarce because the lack of commercial return trumps the fact that drug targets are well characterized and the required R&D investment is relatively inexpensive. The Gates Foundation hopes to create a more robust marketplace for global health medicines through non-dilutive funding. Gates money, plus Priority Review Vouchers and other creative tactics to ensure a market for these medicines may also persuade companies to develop drugs for long overlooked diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. It's not yet clear whether these alternate funding schemes will prove attractive, but they may start making global health increasingly a part of business planning.
NasVax Ltd.'s VaxiSome, a novel adjuvant/delivery system for enhacing the activity of existing vaccines, consists of lipid assemblies comprising an innovative, proprietary family of positively charged polycationic lipids. The technology generates strong adjuvant activity, with the potential for intranasal, intramuscular, or subcutaneous administration. This platform can also be applied to boost the bioactivity of various immunomodulators, such as a broad spectrum of well-established adjuvants and cytokines.
One reason that oral vaccines are so rare is that, generally speaking, the immune system in the gut does not respond to foreign proteins such as food or normal bacteria. Vaxart Inc. has developed an oral vaccine system based on a key immune receptor that recognizes a signal for viral infection that is not normal in the gut and can therefore elicit a strong immune response. The vaccine platform targets toll-like receptor 3 (TLR-3), which occurs on the surface of cells in the small intestine. TLR-3 binds to double-stranded RNA, which is only found in double-stranded RNA viruses, and then alerts the immune system to the presence of the invader.