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Ghent University creates oral vaccination platform 21 Feb 2024 - Animal Health | Headline AnalysisResearch & Development, Deals, Investments - Appeared in S&P Global

22 Feb 2024

Ghent University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is hoping to snare commercial partners for an oral vaccine for pigs. 🐖

Hans Van der Weken is a postdoctoral scientist at the university’s laboratory of veterinary immunology, where his research focuses on the development of an oral vaccination platform utilizing aminopeptidase N (APN) as a gateway through the gut barrier.

At the recent Discovery to Innovation in Animal Health (DIAH) conference in Ghent, Dr Van der Weken said the APN-targeting technology can induce strong mucosal immunity and provide a gateway through gut barriers.

He stated: “Larger orally delivered molecules have difficulty passing through the epithelial barrier as they are not efficiently taken up by the gut tissues.”

Dr Van der Weken said the university’s APN-targeting technology can result in enhanced payload delivery and improved transfer of molecules, as well as broader immune protection and safer administration. In a proof-of-concept vaccination study for E coli in pigs, he noted the technology enabled a strong immune response and a faster clearance of pathogen. Dr Van der Weken pointed out the technology could also be used in combination with antibacterial compounds.

The platform technology can be used to carry “different cargo”, including vaccine and therapeutic antigens. It can also lead to the faster development of new products because its backbone structure can be retained, with only the antigen needing replacement.

The first product candidate derived from the APN technology is a vaccine against porcine weaning disorder and edema in piglets, which Dr Van der Weken suggested will target a market worth €210 million ($227 million). The university is seeking a commercial partner with expertise in vaccine formulation and manufacturing, as well as investors for a €3-4m seed round.

While the platform will also be used to target porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and rotaviruses in pigs, the technology is also applicable to companion animals.

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