This month in Philadelphia at the BIO International Convention, BIO will be partnering with the National Science foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to host the 2nd annual, newly-expanded BIO Innovation Zone. The Zone will feature Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funded early-stage biotech companies.
The SBIR/STTR program provides U.S. federal funding to small businesses engaged in research with the potential for commercialization. Each of the companies has been rigorously vetted through the SBIR/STTR review process prior to receiving the non-dilutive funding to engage in R&D that has the potential for commercialization. The NIH and NSF invest a combined $940 million annually in the programs.
What is your company’s lead product or technology?
Vaxess is developing a range of applications around a silk-derived protein called fibroin. The company’s lead application is the use of the protein as a stabilizer for biotherapeutics, diagnostics, and biospecimens, enabling shipment and storage without refrigeration. In recent years, multiple labs and organizations have shown not only long term stability enhancements using fibroin, but also protection during processing steps such as lyophilization. In addition, the protein has demonstrated utility in a range of other biomedical applications including resorbable microneedles and oral films.
How has the NSF SBIR program helped your company grow?
The NSF’s support is helping Vaxess expand research into a broader range of biotherapeutic and biospecimen targets more quickly. In addition, the company is using the funds to further expand their understanding of the unique form + function capabilities of the protein polymer. Ultimately, this work will lead to even more impactful products making it to market more quickly.
What are the upcoming milestones and long-term priorities for your company?
In the near term, Vaxess is working to generate strong pre-clinical results with a number of different targets in the vaccine, therapeutic, and diagnostic spaces. These targets lay a solid foundation for a future pipeline of partnered products flowing into the FDA approval process. In the long term, the company is focused on generating stabilized products that lower costs, increase access, and ultimately improve both the doctor and the patient experience.
What do you hope to gain out of your participation at the 2015 BIO International Convention?
The company’s technology has an incredible range of possible applications. As the company continues to focus on pushing its lead stabilization candidates forward, it is always looking for new areas that this remarkable material can help. Vaxess hopes to engage with partners facing stability, processing, or material formatting challenges to find opportunities to deliver innovative products through the use of silk.
Tell us something about your company that investors might not know.
Within the last five years, there have been at least six commercial entities that have started around the use of silk to solve some of the most challenging issues in the life science space. Vaxess is leading this pack with a detailed understanding of silk fibroin and its amazing range of applications.