This week is World Immunisation Week. This annual global campaign aims to highlight the collective action needed to promote the use of vaccines and to protect people of all ages against diseases. Through its convening power, the World Health Organization (WHO) works with countries around the world to raise awareness of the value of vaccines and immunisation, and ensure that governments obtain the necessary guidance and technical support to implement high-quality immunisation programmes.
This year’s theme, ‘The Big Catch-Up,’ emphasises the need to act now to catch up the millions of children who missed out on vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, restore essential immunisation coverage to at least 2019 levels, and strengthen primary healthcare to deliver immunisation.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Frédéric Garzoni, CSO of Science Creates member company, Imophoron, was tasked with producing high-value protein reagents for scientists who carried on trying to tackle the global health crisis. Within weeks, Fred developed a COVID-19 vaccine utilising Imophoron’s innovative ADDomer™ platform. What sets ADDomer™ apart is its ability to store vaccines at warmer temperatures, potentially eliminating the need for refrigeration. This is a significant advancement in vaccine technology, as traditional vaccines, such as those developed by AstraZeneca, Moderna, and BioNTech for COVID-19, require cold storage at temperatures as low as -80°C.
How can the ADDomer™ platform be used to help with global challenges with vaccines?
Transportation and storage requirements pose a significant challenge for vaccine distribution, especially in hot countries where temperatures often exceed the optimal storage conditions for traditional vaccines. Up to half of the vaccines worldwide are lost each year due to transportation and storage issues. Pharmaceutical companies often account for wastage in mind of the challenges in maintaining cold chain integrity, translating to an increase in the cost per dose of vaccines. Imophoron’s ADDomer™ platform offers a potential solution to this problem as it can transport and store vaccines at room temperature, up to 30 degrees Celsius, which is significantly higher than the temperature requirements for traditional vaccines. The inherent stability of the molecule, which assembles and is hard to break, enables Imophoron’s vaccines to remain effective even without routine refrigeration.
Compared to mRNA vaccines, which are known to be fragile and require careful handling, Imophoron’s vaccines may offer a more practical and cost-effective solution for vaccine distribution. The company is also exploring the potential of intranasal vaccinations as an alternative to injection-based vaccinations, which many people may find unpleasant.
Preparing for the future
According to Richard Bungay, the CEO of Imophoron, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a diverse range of vaccine technologies to combat diseases. Currently, around 90% of global vaccine value is controlled by just five companies, while over 60% of approved drugs originate from small companies. This underscores the importance of innovation from small companies, which have historically been a major source of new medical technologies.
We need to better equip ourselves with an arsenal of weapons to fight against diseases before the next major virus. The pioneering work of small companies plays a critical role in this effort, as they are often at the forefront of developing new and progressive medical technologies. By fostering a diverse ecosystem of companies, we can encourage more innovation and ultimately improve global health outcomes. Overall, Imophoron’s unique technology platform offers promising solutions to some of the major challenges facing vaccine distribution and accessibility.
Imophoron’s next steps
Imophoron is planning to launch a Series A fundraising round to advance the development of RSV, Chikungunya and oncology vaccinations; and looking to develop vaccines for diseases that primarily affect Low- or Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Given the large number of infectious diseases, Imophoron’s team of nine has limited bandwidth to tackle them all so they are looking to partner with larger Pharma companies on future projects, in addition to developing its own pipeline of vaccines. Find out more about Imophoron, and get in touch with the team here.
Science Creates Ventures (FRN: 933134) is an Appointed Representative of Kin Capital Partners LLP “KCP”, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 656789).