Vaxxas appoints David Hoey as CEO, initiates collaboration with Merck

Vaxxas, a privately-held biotechnology company focused on vaccines, announced Tuesday that David Hoey has been appointed as chief executive.

In a press release, Vaxxas added that it is establishing operations in Cambridge to expand access to global pharmaceutical partners and to complement the its research and development operations based in Australia.

Vaxxas looks to enhance the performance of existing and next generation vaccines with its proprietary Nanopatch technology platform. Nanopatch contains a high density array of projections – invisible to the naked human eye – that are dry-coated with vaccine. Application of the Nanopatch to the skin is pain free and rapidly delivers the vaccine to the abundant immune cell population immediately below the skin surface.

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In a statement, Hoey said: “With the potential to elicit a 100-fold increase in immune response compared to conventional needle-and-syringe, Vaxxas’ Nanopatch platform has true game changing potential. Our strategy is to partner with leading pharmaceutical players to optimize their next-generation and existing vaccines, as well as being a platform to enable whole new classes of vaccines and immunotherapies.”

The company also announced Tuesday its first collaboration with Merck, a global drug maker.

Under the agreement, Merck will pay an upfront fee and will provide funding to Vaxxas to conduct research evaluating the potential of using Vaxxas’ Nanopatch platform for a Merck vaccine candidate, Vaxxas also said.

What’s more, Vaxxas will be eligible to receive additional payments associated with Merck exercising its option to the Nanopatch platform for the development and commercialization of vaccine candidates for up to two additional fields.

Financial details of the collaboration were not included in the press release.