Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) has entered into a collaborative agreement with UniQuest, which specializes in commercializing the intellectual property of The University of Queensland, in Australia. The agreement aims to develop a platform for new immuno-oncology therapies.
The collaboration will combine the expertise of MSD research labs in oncology and immunotherapy with the work of Ranjeny Thomas and Riccardo Dolcetti, two professors at The University of Queensland’s Diamantina Institute, to develop new cancer treatments.
“Both teams will be contributing unique expertise in immunology and oncology, as well as their own proprietary technologies, to enhance the performance of a range of cancer therapies,” Thomas said in a press release. “We’re very excited to be working with MSD who are at the forefront of developing immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer.”
MSD is known as Merck in the U.S. and Canada.
Dean Moss, UniQuest’s chief executive officer, said the project built on a long history of collaboration between MSD and The University of Queensland.
“This collaboration strengthens the relationship between UQ’s world-class researchers and one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, starting with the commercialization of the Gardasil HPV vaccine and, more recently, the research collaboration with UniQuest spin-out company Vaxxas to commercialise the Nanopatch vaccine delivery technology,” Moss added.
Gardasil HPV is a vaccine developed to protect against nine types of human papillomavirus (HPV), namely types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58. These are responsible for most HPV-related cancers and diseases, according to MSD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends HPV vaccination for children at ages 11 or 12.
Vaxxas Nanopatch technology consists of an array of thousands of vaccine-coated microprojections that perforate into the outer layers of the skin. The tips of Nanopatch’s microprojections, or microneedles, are coated with a vaccine material and release it directly to key immune cells immediately below the skin’s surface. The benefits of this approach include an increase in immunogenicity, which can be used in two ways: either by reducing the dose required to achieve effectiveness or by amplifying the vaccine’s effectiveness. Pre-clinical studies have also demonstrated the ability of the Nanopatch to remove or reduce the amount of additional medication needed for effective vaccination.
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