Firm’s adjuvant technology targets TLR3, which is active in the gastrointestinal tract.

Vaxart closed a $12.5 million Series B financing that will be used to advance its lead product, an oral vaccine for avian influenza, through Phase I trials. The firm’s founder, Sean Tucker, Ph.D., says that his approach to vaccine creation will enable the production of a portfolio of oral-delivery vaccines.

Central to Vaxart’s technique is its adjuvant, which employs TLR3. This is the only TLR known to be fully active in the gastrointestinal tract, the company points out. Its vaccines thus stimulate an immune response when given in a pill instead of as an injection.

Vaxart’s technology also enables the use of the same vector for all vaccines, the firm adds. Usually, each vaccine requires a different vehicle because people who have been vaccinated build antibodies against the vehicle. Vaxart reports that it has seen strong immune responses against multiple targets following a series of oral vaccines built on the same vehicle.

Additionally, the company believes it will be able to produce new vaccines through a standardized low-cost process with low regulatory risk because data from one vaccine will help establish the safety of others.

The Series B round was led by Care Capital of Princeton NJ. Richard Markham and Jan Leschly of Care Capital have joined Vaxart’s board.

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