Tucson Local Media: Local startup combines technology and life sciences for a new method of vaccines
Tucson’s biotech industry is growing more robust with Reparvi, a startup company that is looking to combine biology, engineering and machine learning for powerful new vaccines. Reparvi was granted a year entrance to the University of Arizona Center for Innovation after winning a competition for startup science companies, which also includes a $4,000 prize and legal assistance to help develop the company.
Reparvi was co-founded by scientist Deepak Agrawal, who serves as head of discovery and development, and Pete Bantock, who serves as head of strategy and previously worked at Roche Tissue Diagnostics in Oro Valley. While Agrawal and Bantock have known each other for years, the emergence of COVID-19 prompted them to start a company based around a novel method of vaccine creation.
Agrawal says the vaccine approach at Reparvi is influenced by his work on viruses starting in the late 1980s. Reparvi is developing a Cell Repair Engineering platform that can create “biologically inspired particles,” similar to viruses, to trigger an immune response like a vaccine.
"Viruses have multiple functions, but one of the things they have to do is take over a cell and replicate. We think that technology has some real potential,” Agrawal said. “We think the real advantage to what Reparvi is doing is the approach: generating a method to be able to engineer a vaccine.”
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