Nancy J. Gonzalez / MexicoNow
Hyderabad, India. - Entrepreneurs from around the World gathered in Hyderabad, India at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) for a week to mature their projects and share their experiences with other entrepreneurs as well as to create a global ecosystem.
Mexican entrepreneurs presented matured programs related to telecommunications, health sciences, food, aerospace, and education industries.
One of those participants in the Mexican delegation is Vaccitech, a company with laboratories in Monterrey, Mexico, which is developing technology to manufacture more affordable and efficient vaccines. Cesar Garcia, Vaccitech CEO, talked to MexicoNow about the project.
MexicoNow (MN). - What project did you present during GES?
Cesar Garcia (CG). - Vaccitech is a U.S.-based company with laboratories in Monterrey, Mexico. Dr. Mario Rodriguez is developing the technology to manufacture vaccines much faster and at a lower cost.
This concept was developed because viruses are now more resistant. For example, the influenza vaccine mutates every year so developing countries were able to develop a vaccine and inoculate their people. Unfortunately, it takes too much time, up to 6 months, to be able to manufacture the vaccine. Since the virus mutates, you have 4 to 6 months to manufacture the vaccine, but in that period of time the virus might mutated and worst-case scenarios, the vaccine is going to be ineffective.
The technology Dr. Rodriguez is developing produces a vaccine in one sixteenth of the time and one eight hundredth of the cost. The vaccines can be manufacture in 2 weeks instead of 6 months and cents instead of dollars.
This is an opportunity to inoculate entire countries. In the U.S., for this flu season, about 170,000 doses of the vaccine were produced and those vaccines are manufactured in good manufactured processed eggs. One egg equals one dose of a vaccine. Therefore, if you were to use basic technology for all the vaccines for all the people in the U.S. you will be over 300 million eggs, which requires massive installations and a lot of time to produce them. It is not just possible and the cost is extremely high.
If we can take this down to two weeks we can actually wait until we see the actual strength instead of guessing, which is what happens now. The World Health Organization actually guesses of what they think what is going to be the vaccine for the virus that is going to be prevalent. Thus, we need to wait the signs of this virus and then manufacture the vaccine because we have been able to cut the cost so much.
European countries and the U.S. can actually afford the vaccines. Those countries are able to inoculate their population but the rest of the world cannot afford the vaccine.
We were able to reduce the cost to pennies of a dollar, now it opens up greater markets: China, India, Mexico, African countries, and South America. This project is highly scalable, we can set up manufacturing sites in those countries. Instead of hundreds of thousand square feet to be able to produce the vaccines the way we do it now, we just need 30,000 square feet facilities to manufacture the vaccine to inoculate everybody in Mexico.
MN. - Which are the strengths of this project for the pitch competition?
CG. - The fact we can reduce the time and cost to manufacture a vaccine. We can be able to manufacture vaccines to the entire world.
MN. - Are you ready to manufacture these vaccines?
CG. - We are not going to be manufacturing these vaccines. Our company is going to the research and development. Our technology will be licensed to pharmaceuticals, non-governmental organizations, or even governments that choose to use our technology to manufacture the vaccines.
MN. - What is the amount of investment you need to develop your project?
CG. - To do the whole project right now and get us to the point in which we can partner with a pharmaceutical, we need US$ 55 million. If you consider the market, by 2022- just in the U.S. alone- the market is above US$ 5 billion.
Nowadays, there are companies and researchers that are looking for a universal flu vaccine. The problem with that project is that it is very expensive and it is only going to be available in developed countries.