Big DNA secures £1.5m cash injection for vaccine technology

BIG DNA, the Roslin-based life sciences company, has secured a further £1.5 million of funding to help it develop its vaccine technology.

The money will come from an international consortium – including institutional and private investors based in the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and London – and the Scottish Enterprise Co-investment Fund.

The company is developing a technique to deliver vaccines using bacterial viruses called bacteriophages.

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Bacteriophages contain the genetic instructions – or DNA – rather than using the disease organism itself, which conventional vaccines rely upon.

Whereas existing vaccines can take months to develop, Big DNA said its vaccines could be made in just a few weeks and may also be taken orally, eliminating the need for needles. Big DNA was set-up two years ago and last year secured 300,000 of venture capital funding. Earlier this year, the firm secured a further 70,000 from the Scottish Government.

Dr John March, founder and chief executive of Big DNA, said: "In the current financial climate, this investment confirms the strength of our new technology for delivering vaccines to humans and animals, the vast potential of the market and the strength of the management team we are putting in place. Our patented technology has enormous potential importance for public health and this investment comes at a time when it must be the hardest in living memory to raise finance."

Lord Freeman, the former defence procurement minister, was appointed chairman of Big DNA earlier this year.

March – who developed the technology while at the Moredun Research Institute and won 140,000 in Scottish Enterprise proof of concept funding – told The Scotsman that, in the long term, he would like to keep Big DNA in Scotland.

He added: "The funding we've got should last us between two and three years. In the next two year, we plan to get our technology to the stage where we can start to do clinical trials."

The funding came a week after Big DNA announced a collaboration with the China Agricultural University to develop vaccines against Chlamydia in pigs.

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