SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

UM Ventures to collaborate with Fina Biosolutions on vaccines

University of Maryland Ventures announced a collaboration on Thursday between Fina Biosolutions, LLC and Frank Robb, a scientist at the University of Maryland's Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology, to develop vaccine manufacturing methods.

UM Ventures, a joint research commercialization effort of the University of Maryland at Baltimore and the University of Maryland at College Park, will join with Fina Biosolutions, a Rockford, Md.-based private research and development biotechnology company, and Robb, who helped to develop systems for improving the stability and function of manufactured proteins like those used in vaccines. PATH, an international nonprofit organization will fund the partnership's development efforts to devise new ways to manufacture a key component used in many vaccines.

"A new and improved vaccine production method is the goal of this public-private partnership between my lab and Fina Biosolutions," Robb said. "It is designed to yield broader availability of an important vaccine component, which is highly effective, but prohibitively expensive for some applications, particularly in the developing world."

PATH is funding the project as part of its pneumococcal vaccine project.

"We are pleased to be working with organizations that share FinaBio's mission to help make conjugate vaccines affordable for the emerging markets," Andrew Lees, the scientific director of Fina Biosolutions, said. "The partnership with PATH and the University of Maryland will allow us to achieve this goal and to help to make vaccines that will save countless lives."

The University of Maryland patented several technologies developed by Robb's team based on industrial applications of his team's research into microbes found in extreme environments.

"Following on the heels of our Wellcome Trust-Bharat Biotech collaboration formed last year," Phil Robilotto, the assistant vice president of the university's Office of Technology Transfer, said. "UMB's Office of Technology Transfer, in conjunction with UM Ventures, is very happy to be facilitating more of these important public-private partnerships on behalf of the campus and its investigators, such as Dr. Robb."