13 March 2020
Frontier IP Group plc
("Frontier IP" or the "Group")
Portfolio news - The Vaccine Group starts work on COVID-19 animal vaccine based on novel technology as bovine tuberculosis and African Swine Fever vaccines move into field trials
Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising university intellectual property, notes today's announcement below from portfolio company The Vaccine Group ("TVG" or the "Company") about the material progress it is making with its novel vaccine technology and the start of work on a COVID-19 vaccine for use in animals.
The key points include validation of the technology through successful rabbit trials, which have revealed the potential for new intellectual property, the start of animal trials for bovine tuberculosis and African Swine Fever, and good progress on US government-backed work on Ebola and Lassa fever vaccines.
The Company completed a £680,000 equity fund raise in January 2020 that valued TVG at £9.5 million and Frontier IP's 17 per cent shareholding at £1.6 million. The funds are being used by TVG to accelerate technology development.
Frontier IP Chief Executive Officer Neil Crabb said: "The announcement shows TVG has been making great progress to date in meeting the compelling need for vaccines to tackle diseases with profound human and economic costs. The range of vaccines now under development and the success of trials so far proves the technology could be potent in tackling a wide variety of diseases that jump from animals to humans or are damaging economically.
"We're working closely with the Company to accelerate its vital work."
The Vaccine Group statement is set out in full below:
The Vaccine Group starts work on COVID-19 animal vaccine based on novel technology as bovine tuberculosis and African Swine Fever vaccines move into field trials
The Vaccine Group is today announcing it has made significant progress towards developing its novel vaccine platform technology. A series of major steps forward have been made:
· Rabbit trials of a prototype bovine mastitis vaccine have revealed significant potential for new intellectual property and demonstrated the technology's ability to deliver strong, targeted immune responses
· Vaccines to combat bovine tuberculosis and African Swine Fever Virus are about to enter initial animal trials. It has been less than a year since the Company started work on African Swine Fever
· US government-backed work to develop vaccines to tackle Ebola and Lassa fever virus are making good progress
· The Company has started work on coronavirus vaccines for use in animals to prevent future human coronavirus zoonotic emergence and will be working in partnership with Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute in China and Kansas State University.
The University of Plymouth spin out and its international partners are backed by more than £9 million in grant funding from the Chinese, UK and US governments. It is developing vaccines based on benign forms of herpesviruses, a group of viruses found in all animals, including humans. They are created by inserting a non-infectious region of DNA from the pathogen being targeted into the herpesvirus. This vaccine then stimulates an immune response against the disease when delivered into animals.
Other projects underway include developing a vaccine against Streptococcus suis, a disease in pigs which can be fatal in humans. This has so far produced two vaccine candidates for further testing. The project is funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care and the Chinese government. Other partners include the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute and Chinese vaccine manufacturer Pulike Biological Engineering Company.
The success in animals of the bovine mastitis vaccine, which has been funded by global bacterial vaccine network Bactivac, has provided important validation for TVG's platform. The potential for new areas of intellectual property emerged during the course of research.
TVG self-funded the work on African Swine Fever, a disease which has had a major economic impact in China and on pork prices globally, having killed or led to the slaughter of 25 per cent of the global pig population last year. The proof of concept vaccine is about to enter pig trials at Kansas State University.
Bovine tuberculosis is seen as a major animal health threat in the UK and, as a zoonotic disease, to human health in lower-to-middle-income countries. The vaccine candidate is entering a small-scale cattle trial.
The Company is now starting development of a vaccine to tackle COVID-19 for use in animals in partnership with the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute and Kansas State University. The plan is to develop a vaccine designed to prevent COVID-19 and related coronaviruses jumping from animals into humans. TVG believes it is the only Company adopting such an approach.
TVG Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Associate Professor Dr Michael Jarvis, said: "As COVID-19 has shown, the spillover of disease from animals to humans can have a very high social, economic and commercial cost globally.
"Naturally there has been a swift move into funding the development of human vaccines and therapeutics, but to date we are not aware of any approaches to eliminate Covid-19 in the animal population to prevent future outbreaks or re-emergence of the disease.
"The animal species involved in emergence of COVID-19 remain unclear. We believe that such a vaccine tool may be vital for control of COVID-19 as well as other emerging coronaviruses. We have therefore started work on a vaccine and will be partnering with the Shanghai Veterinary Research Institute and Kansas State University, with whom we already have close links."
The Vaccine Group statement ends.
Frontier IP Group plc
Neil Crabb, Chief Executive Officer
Andrew Johnson, Communications & Investor Relations
Company website: www.frontierip.co.uk
T: 0207 332 2338
M: 07464 546 025
Allenby Capital Limited (Nominated Adviser)
T: 0203 328 5656
Nick Athanas / Nicholas Chambers
N+1 Singer (Broker)
Harry Gooden / George Tzimas
T: 0207 496 3000
ABOUT FRONTIER IP
Frontier IP unites science and commerce by identifying strong intellectual property and accelerating its development through a range of commercialisation services. A critical part of the Group's work is involving relevant industry partners at an early stage of development to ensure technology meets real world demands and needs.
The Group looks to build and grow a portfolio of equity stakes and licence income by taking an active involvement in spin-out companies, including support for fund raising and collaboration with relevant industry partners at an early stage of development.
ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF PLYMOUTH
The University of Plymouth is renowned for high quality, internationally-leading education, research and innovation.
With a mission to Advance Knowledge and Transform Lives, Plymouth is a *top 50 research university with clusters of world class research across a wide range of disciplines including marine science and engineering, medicine, robotics and psychology. A three-time winner of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, the University of Plymouth continues to grow in stature and reputation.
It has a strong track record for teaching and learning excellence and has one of the highest numbers of National Teaching Fellows of any UK university. With over 19,000 students, and a further 9,500 studying for a Plymouth degree at partner institutions in the UK and around the world, and over 130,000 alumni pursuing their chosen careers globally, it has a growing global presence.
* Research Fortnight Research Power League Table 2014.