Sheridan-based United Animal Health has long been a leader in animal nutrition and now it is diversifying its operation with growth into livestock vaccines. The company recently formed a partnership with Genvax Technologies, a startup animal vaccine company in Ames, Iowa, by making a strategic investment in the young company.
“Genvax is on the cutting edge of immunology. And we see a lot of power of that in terms of what that means for animal health,” said United Animal Health Senior Vice President of Research Scott Holmstrom.
Led by an investment by UAH, Genvax Technologies recently secured $6.5 million in series seed funding. The list of investors represents animal health, nutrition, feed, meat packers, and consumer products in the fight against existing and emerging threats to the food supply chain.
This funding moves the company toward USDA and international regulatory approval of its vaccines in anticipation of any foreign animal disease outbreak in order to increase health and profitability in livestock production.
“It might surprise a lot of [people] that a lot of the traditional vaccines on the market today are utilizing 20, 30, 40-year-old technology and they’re a one size fit all, said Genvax co-founder Joel Harris. “We don’t believe… that that’s going to cut it when we have things like African swine fever, knocking at our door or more frequent outbreaks of avian influenza.”
The company’s proprietary platform allows for rapid development of herd or flock-specific vaccines that are a 100% match to the variant strain circulating in animal production.
“And then there’s also the unknown to what might come and so our paradigm shift is developing a platform to rapidly respond and develop candidate vaccines when outbreaks occur…so we can be the first responders to the next endemic or pandemic,” said Harris.
Holmstrom, who joined United in July 2021 after having worked for two decades at Greenfield-based Elanco Animal Health, says the Genvax technology is unprecedented and necessary.
“This collaboration is a signal United Animal Health is putting additional focus on health and is embracing new technology and innovative approaches, said Holmstrom. “At the same time, we’ll continue to be a trusted source of knowledge and information for nutrition and feed ingredients for our domestic swine customers.”