Published Sep 1, 2020
Wellington UniVentures will play its part in a new alliance that brings together several organisations in the search for a COVID-19 vaccine for New Zealand.
The Vaccine Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand–Ohu Kaupare Huaketo (VAANZ) is a joint effort between Victoria University of Wellington, the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research, and the University of Otago. These organisations will work together on a national COVID-19 vaccine evaluation and development platform that will assess domestic and international vaccine candidates in pre-clinical models and human trials. Wellington UniVentures will assist with the provision of intellectual property and commercialisation advice.
“It’s exciting for us to be leveraging our experience and connections to contribute to the global search for a COVID-19 vaccine,” says Hamish Findlay, Wellington UniVentures’ General Manager—Commercialisation, who is working alongside the alliance team.
The group will continue its research and development of three local vaccine candidates, one of which involves University researchers in an international effort led by Avalia Immunotherapies—a Wellington UniVentures spin-out company—who is looking into the possibility of a pan-coronavirus vaccine that targets all coronaviruses.
The other two candidates include: a vaccine that targets the spike protein present on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, led by Dr Davide Comoletti from the University’s School of Biological Sciences; and an inactivated vaccine (where the vaccine contains inert particles of the target disease) led by the University of Otago.
The government has allocated $10 million in funding to the group, as part of the $37 million COVID-19 vaccine strategy for New Zealand. The project has also been supported by an earlier investment from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as well as donations to the Malaghan Institute.