Selecta raises $15 million to advance potential vaccine

A Massachusetts startup that uses nanotechnology to engineer safer and more effective vaccines is expected to say April 5 that it has raised another $15 million in venture capital to finance the further development of its products according to the Boston Globe.

Selecta Biosciences Inc., which uses technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School, has raised more than $30 million since it was launched about two years ago.

Selecta uses nanotechnology — which builds devices and structures at a scale that is one-thousandth the width of a human hair — to create synthetic particles that mimic viruses and trigger the body’s immune responses to protect against disease.

The nanoparticles, made from biodegradable materials similar to those used in sutures that dissolve, have advantages over traditional vaccines that use inactive viruses to trigger the immune response, Selecta officials said.

The nanoparticles, for example, can precisely target immune cells to prompt a stronger response by the body’s defenses.

“You are mimicking nature’s way of dealing with infectious agents,’’ said Robert L. Bratzler, Selecta’s CEO. “We have some very exciting technology that has the potential to leapfrog biological vaccines.’’

Selecta is still years away from putting a product on the market. It must go through clinical trials to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Company officials said they hope to begin the first of three phases of trials next year.