GLASGOW- Uvax Organican early-stage vaccine technology company, is planning an $8 million expansion of its research and production work in Delaware, building a lab and hiring dozens of new workers.
Founded in 2018 as a spin-off from California-based nonprofit The Scripps Research Institute, Uvax Bio licenses proprietary technology developed by Scripps co-founder and researcher Jiang Zhu to develop and commercialize vaccines prophylactics for the most difficult infectious diseases.
The dozen patents held by the firm are used to create Uvax, an all-in-one virus-like nanoparticle with a simple manufacturing process. Uvax Bio is preparing to bring its three lead vaccine candidates, one for COVID-19 and two for HIV-1, into phase 1 clinical trials.
To support these trials and increase interest in the science of the company, Uvax Bio now plans to develop 8,800 square feet in Springside Plaza off US Route 40 in Glasgow to create a research laboratory and hire up to to 63 new researchers. They would range from research assistants earning $45,000 a year to R&D managers earning over $130,000 a year.
To support its expansion, the state’s jobs investment board, the Council on Development Finance, unanimously signed a grant Monday of more than $1.06 million to help create the 63 positions. and a $240,000 grant to help support the company’s fit-up. laboratories.
“Uvax Bio LLC is an innovative science and technology company specializing in vaccine platform technology. Today’s announcement of growth in Newark shows their continued commitment to our state and our workforce,” Governor John Carney said in a statement. “Uvax Bio plans to increase its workforce tenfold with this expansion. Thank you to Uvax Bio for their commitment to Delaware’s growing life sciences industry.
Kevin O’Neill, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Uvax Bio, explained on Monday that the Zhu created a core of nanoparticles on which antigens can be mounted to produce a virus-like response by the body’s immune system. a receiver.
“This molecule has the ability to deploy 20 to 60 of these antigens externally. We believe this technology will not only be safe because protein vaccines have been around for a long time, but also the broad response to it…and with our technology, we hope to have a longer duration of protection because you have an immune response deeper against this molecule. So it’s very exciting,” he said.
O’Neill explained that the Uvax nanoparticle has a basis in traditional vaccine development, but also extends into more advanced science.
“When we compare ourselves to some of the competition in the market, it’s very different from mRNA vaccines, for example, which only produce the spike… We produce the whole virus particle,” he said. declared.
The lab, built in an office and healthcare complex in a former lab space, would house a variety of highly technical bioscience work, ranging from analytical work to assay development, protein purification to cell culture, O’Neill said. Uvax Bio even plans to eventually create a small manufacturing plant, where it would have bioreactors producing small quantities of candidate vaccines on site.
“It’s not a big facility for this kind of work, but it will be enough for us to move into the next phase of our protein development,” he said, noting that the HIV-1 vaccine in particular is among the most promising in the world. industry pipeline.
Monday’s CDF hearing featured a question from Community Bank Delaware board member and chairman Jack Riddle, who asked about Uvax Bio’s financial support, noting that the company reported a rate of cash that could be exhausted in about a year. Board members often ask such questions to ensure that a grant recipient can afford to last at least the guaranteed three years following receipt of public funds.
The leaders of Uvax Bio then requested that they meet in an executive session to discuss their financing strategy in private. After returning about 15 minutes later, the board unanimously approved Uvax Bio’s grants.
Little is publicly known about the funding stream of the company originally known as Ufovax. According to a deposit 2020 with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the company sold 11 million of its 20 million shares to Matrix groupa New York-based investment bank.
Several of its listed executives also have ties to Landmark Pegasusa Florida-based corporate finance advisory firm specializing in the life sciences industry.