Looking back to the future of vaccine development
This article was originally published in Start Up
Fresh evidence that everything once fashionable eventually comes back into style is now provided by TremRx Inc., a Boston-based start-up intent on developing prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines. The company’s approach hinges on much the same method as the smallpox vaccine invented by Edward Jenner in the late 1700s. As Jenner did, TremRx anticipates its vaccines will be applied to a small area of abraded skin. The company plans to deliver, via this abrasion in the epidermis, a live Vaccinia virus that can infect, but not replicate, in skin cells. Used this way as a vector to carry antigens, the method has been shown to stimulate production of protective immune-system cells called T-Resident Effector Memory cells, or TREMs.
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The vaccine industry has had its ups and downs the last two decades, as public opinion and investor perception has influenced both the use and production of these preventative medicines. It’s traditionally been a difficult space for smaller companies due to the financial hurdles, but a handful of start-ups, including TremRx, Selecta Biosciences Inc., Genocea Biosciences Inc. and Imaxio SA, all profiled in this issue, are banking on progress in delivery and development technology to help them raise financing for their vaccines programs.
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