EncOVac, a consortium led by Poolbeg Pharma, has been awarded €2.3m ($2.4 million) in non-dilutive grant funding to progress its Oral Vaccine Platform under the Irish Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF).
Taking place over three years, the collaboration between Poolbeg Pharma, University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and AnaBio Technologies will result in the development of an oral vaccine candidate to a phase I ready state.
The resulting technology will serve as a platform for additional oral vaccine candidates for a wide range of pathogens, initially targeting bacterial infections.
Poolbeg licensed AnaBio’s microencapsulation and nanoencapsulation technologies for use in the development and commercialization of oral vaccines in January 2022. By delivering vaccines to the gut, oral vaccines can trigger ‘mucosal immunity’ that results in a protective response in the areas of the body where a pathogen would be inhaled or ingested such as the nose and digestive tracts.
In comparison to intramuscular injections, which generate systemic immunity, this approach prevents infections from taking hold in the body by counteracting them at the point of entry. This has the effect of both reducing transmission and preventing serious disease. Oral vaccines also offer an efficient method of administration and significantly reduce challenges for distribution, addressing the gaps in supplying the global community as well as needle-phobia which factors in vaccine hesitancy.
Jeremy Skillington, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma said: “We are grateful for the support of the Irish Government in awarding this funding and delighted to be working with our consortium of high-quality partners in University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and AnaBio. The funding will support the progression of this exciting oral vaccine platform that has the potential to improve the ways vaccines are manufactured, distributed and administered for the future. Poolbeg continues to target non-dilutive funding opportunities and we are delighted that this DTIF award is our first success.”
Prof Siobhán McClean, associate professor at University College Dublin, said: “I am pleased to work with the other members of this consortium to bring the antigens my team have identified and developed, closer to the clinic so that together, we can protect people from infectious diseases.”
Ed Lavelle, professor of Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, said: “The pharmaceutical industry has long aspired to develop subunit oral vaccines and I believe we have assembled a consortium of experts and ground-breaking technologies that are uniquely placed to make them a reality.”
Sinéad Bleiel, founder and chief scientific officer of AnaBio Technologies, added: “Having demonstrated the potential of our encapsulation technology to deliver drug products safely and effectively to the gut, we are excited to collaborate with the EncOVac team of world class researchers, led by Poolbeg and supported by the Irish Government as part of the world’s renewed fight against infectious diseases.”