Awareness of the Pfizer vaccine in Australia could unlock a new health investment trend, says one VC
Health & Biotech
Health & Biotech
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Australia’s push for more Pfizer vaccines for COVID-19 has been tipped to trigger a whole new investment trend in the health sector.
The Pfizer vaccine requires a special technology – mRNA – that as of April 2021 has never been replicated in Australia, leaving us competing with everyone else for jabs.
Australia does have capabilities to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine.
But following the recommendation that under 50s not be given that jab it remains to be seen if the full contract with CSL (ASX:CSL) for 50 million jabs will be completed, especially since Australia has since ordered more Pfizer jabs.
While vaccines such as AstraZeneca (which is a viral vector vaccine) work by injecting a less deadly version of diseases into our bodies, mRNA vaccines teach cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response so our system produces antibodies against the virus.
In other words, while viral vectors vaccines inject weak pathogens into the body, mRNA vaccines essentially “create code” in bodies telling cells to create antibodies to fight the virus.
But mRNA vaccines fall into the broader category of genomics, an area of health utilising DNA sequences to develop treatments against diseases.
Another example is Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy which is the technology of biotech stock Chimeric Therapeutics (ASX:CHM).
Geoff Waring of Stoic Venture Capital thinks the situation with the Pfizer vaccine in Australia has shown a need for greater investment in genomics in Australia.
And he thinks venture capitalists will respond given the potential genomics technologies offer even beyond COVID-19.
“Examples of promising applications are mRNA vaccines for diseases such as malaria or HIV, precision patient-specific pharmaceuticals, or genetically engineered Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells which had miraculous results for even late stage cancer,” Dr Waring said.
“The incredible efficacy and safety of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines has driven increased interest into genomics research and the genetic diagnosis and treatment of disease.”
One such company working on genomics technology, and Stoic has invested in, is Exonate.
It is trialing an eye drop treatment for retinal vascular diseases in collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals. It kicked off a Phase 1b/2 clinical trial in February.