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University of Houston teams up in COVID-19 battle

The University of Houston (UH) is partnering with an Indian American biotech company to fight COVID-19, ABC 13 reports. 

The company, AuraVax Therapeutics Inc., hopes to develop a vaccine for the respiratory virus that’s infected and killed millions, The Economic Times reports. 

With the partnership, AuraVax will be able to exclusively license the technology, according to The Economic Times. The ‘differentiated-approach vaccine’ was developed by Navin Varadarajan, AuraVax co-founder and M.D. Anderson Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston. 

“We are excited to be collaborating with the University of Houston and look forward to future success by advancing the development of this novel intranasal vaccine platform to address a multitude of respiratory viruses, starting with COVID-19,” Varadarajan said, The Economic Times reports. 

The company plans to “stop COVID-19 at its point of entry – the naval cavity,” according to The Economic Times. The University of Houston compares this creation to the nasal inhalant FluMist, and AuraVax said its ‘next-generation’ vaccine administration platform would enable the vaccine to be administered at home. 

According to the University of Houston, the AuraVax technology has been “validated” for COVID-19 in animal studies. Varadarajan hopes the vaccine could be distributed widely.

“AuraVax, being created by a UH professor, is the ideal partner for us, and what better cause than to advance the creation of a vaccine to COVID-19, arguably the primary challenge facing our generation,” Amr Elnashai, University of Houston vice president for research and technology transfer, said. “The partnership has my wholehearted support.”

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