Vaxin Inc., a clinical stage vaccine development company, and the Scott-Ritchey Research Center at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine announce a $1 million Michelson Grant award from the Found Animals Foundation to continue development of a vaccine that may provide an alternative to surgical spay and neuter for cats and dogs.
The three-year project draws upon the science of Vaxin’s vaccine technology already tested in humans for influenza and the Scott-Ritchey Research Center’s commitment to develop contraceptive vaccines for companion animals. As a condition of Michelson Grant funding, Found Animals Foundation receives first right to negotiate an exclusive, worldwide license to market and sell products resulting from the research it funds.
With the Michelson Grant, Vaxin and collaborators at Auburn’s Scott-Ritchey Research Center will pursue the $25 million Michelson Prize offered by the Found Animals Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit. Comparable to the widely publicized "X Prizes," which encourage scientists to develop innovative solutions to global challenges, the Found Animals Foundation's Michelson Prize in Reproductive Biology seeks a low-cost, nonsurgical method to sterilize large populations of cats and dogs to reduce the number of homeless and unwanted animals that are killed each year in shelters.
Henry Baker and Nancy Cox of Auburn University and Kent Van Kampen of Vaxin are the lead investigators of the grant project. “This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Vaxin to use its platform technology developed for human vaccines to address a significant problem in animals,” said Van Kampen.
According to the Found Animals Foundation, six to eight million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters each year, and about half are euthanized. While animal sterilization has long been recognized as an integral solution to the problem of overpopulation, standard surgical techniques of spaying and neutering have obstacles such as high costs and the need for trained veterinary surgeons and appropriate facilities. A single-dose, nonsurgical sterilant that could be administered in the field at a reasonable cost would be an ideal solution, and would save lives and end suffering for millions of companion animals throughout the world.
“For a decade scientists at the Scott-Ritchey Research Center and Vaxin have collaborated in the design and testing of dog and cat contraceptive vaccines. The goal is to create a vaccine which will induce long-term sterility and block breeding behavior in both male and female dogs and cats after administration of a single dose,” said Henry Baker.
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