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ViroVet gets government grant for vaccine work in poultry, ruminants


Sep 19, 2018 - Animal Pharm
By Joseph Harvey

Belgian start-up ViroVet has received a grant from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO) to spur development of its vaccine technology.

VLAIO is a Flemish government agency that supports industrial R&D projects. The agency awarded ViroVet with a €590,000 ($690,000) grant, which will help the firm assess the potential to develop its plasmid-launched live attenuated virus (PLLAV) vaccine technology in poultry and large ruminants in a two-year project.

Leuven-based ViroVet claims its PLLAV technology allows for "mass production of inexpensive, tailor-made, modified-life vaccines with the potential to prevent endemic and epizootic livestock diseases". Additionally, PLLAV vaccines are stable at temperatures of up to 50°C and do not require a cold chain.

Proof-of-concept work in pigs has "underscored the potential of this technology for livestock", claims ViroVet. The company developed its platform technology in collaboration with the Rega Institute for Medical Research of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Dr Nesya Goris, the firm's chief development officer and co-founder, said: "The disruptive nature of ViroVet's PLLAV vaccine technology will further emerge as its use in poultry becomes evident. The possibility to combine different disease targets into one single vaccine will decrease handling time and production costs. In large ruminants, the PLLAV technology will allow us to develop the next generation of bovine viral diarrhea and foot-and-mouth disease vaccines."

Last year, in collaboration with GALVmed, the company extended its vaccine pipeline to small ruminants

Seeking ASF financing

ViroVet's co-founder and chief executive, Erwin Blomsma told Animal Pharm the firm is currently seeking non-dilutive funding to fuel its work in the area of African swine fever (ASF).

Dr Blomsma said: "Getting funding for this type of work is difficult but typically people close the stable door after the horse has bolted."

In 2017, ViroVet closed its series A financing round. Dr Blomsma said the series A covers basic research on ASF, which is currently impacting the firm's home nation.

ViroVet is aiming to engage in a series B financing round in the second half of 2019 – a process the company will start preparing for at the beginning of next year.

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