Ag Startup Engine, in the Iowa State University (ISU) Research Park, has announced an initial investment in Iowa-based Genvax Technologies, which is developing novel self-amplifying messenger RNA (saRNA) vaccines for livestock.
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research recently awarded a $145,000 grant to Genvax Technologies to develop a saRNA vaccine for African Swine Fever (ASF) in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services Plum Island Animal Disease Center (USDA-ARS-PIADC). In addition, Genvax Technologies provided matching funds for a total $290,000 investment in this ASF vaccine development research.
African Swine Fever is a highly contagious virus that causes high mortality rates in swine. As no vaccine for this virus exists, this deadly disease has significantly impacted livestock producers in many countries.
“The threat posed by African Swine Fever is extraordinary to producers and consumers,” said Joel Harris, CEO and co-founder of Genvax Technologies. “The goal is to get a vaccine in the field that matches 100 percent to the specific ASF strain if an outbreak were to occur. This makes our vaccine an important tool for eradication efforts and may alleviate any concerns with trading partners abroad.”
Ag Startup Engine is excited to have Genvax join its portfolio of innovative startups. “Joel and Hank Harris are pioneers of messenger RNA technologies,” commented Kevin Kimle, Ag Startup Engine Co-Director. “Diseases like African Swine Fever are significant threats to the swine industry and grain, feed, and meat. Genvax aims to provide a solution to this threat, and we are happy to play a part by investing in the business.”
FFAR awarded this grant through the Rapid Outcomes from Agricultural Research (ROAR) program, which deploys urgent funding to support research and outreach in response to emerging or unanticipated threats to the nation’s food supply or agricultural systems.