EnWave Corporation (TSXV:ENW / FSE:E4U) has signed a material transfer agreement with MedImmune Limited, an affiliate of AstraZeneca AB (LSE:STO), to facilitate the trialing of EnWave’s Radiant Energy Vacuum technology for the dehydration of liquid monoclonal antibody formulations.
The deal has important implications for a technology that could be used for dehydrating Covid treatments and indeed even vaccines faster than more conventional methods. This has been borne out by further research from Merck (see below).
Proof of concept trials underway
Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will send proprietary materials to EnWave’s testing facility in Vancouver, Canada to conduct initial proof-of-concept trials. If successful, the two companies intend to negotiate a more robust agreement to allow for further research and development activities.
This is a major development for EnWave Corporation, a Vancouver-based advanced technology company, which has developed a Radiant Energy Vacuum – an innovative, proprietary method for the precise dehydration of organic materials.
EnWave has further developed patent-pending methods for uniformly drying and decontaminating cannabis through the use of REV technology, shortening the time from harvest to high-quality, marketable cannabis products.
Monoclonal antibody treatments have played important role
REV technology’s commercial viability has been demonstrated and is growing rapidly across several market verticals in the food, and pharmaceutical sectors, including legal cannabis. EnWave’s strategy is to sign royalty-bearing commercial licenses with innovative, disruptive companies in multiple verticals for the use of REV technology. It has signed over forty royalty-bearing licenses to date in twenty countries worldwide.
In addition to these licenses, EnWave established a Limited Liability Corporation, NutraDried Food Company, to manufacture, market, and sell all-natural dairy snack products in the United States, including the Moon Cheese brand.
But the excitement of investors revolves around the technology’s applicability within vaccines and other Covid treatments.
Merck evaluation of EnWave technology
Merck & Co. has recently published a research paper citing EnWave’s freezeREV process as a viable manufacturing alternative to vial-based lyophilization for vaccines and biologics. The research article entitled “Evaluation of Microwave Vacuum Drying as an Alternative to Freeze-Drying of Biologics and Vaccines: The Power of Simple Modeling to Identify a Mechanism for Faster Drying Times Achieved with Microwave” was published in the January 19, 2021 edition of PharmSciTech, the official journal of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.
Merck’s nine-month evaluation used a lab-scale freezeREV unit manufactured by EnWave specifically for the dehydration of pharmaceutical products. The goal of the study was to determine the uniformity and repeatability of Microwave Vacuum Drying (MVD) when used to dry liquid vaccines in vials. This evaluation is the first of its kind to scientifically document the efficacy of microwave-vacuum drying, more specifically freezeREV, for the drying of vaccines.
The authors of the research article note that both the global pandemic and the rapid spread of COVID-19 have emphasised the need for accelerated vaccine development and on-demand, flexible manufacturing options.
Faster alternative to freeze drying of vaccines and proteins
The published evaluation results stated that “Microwave vacuum drying serves as a faster alternative to freeze drying of biologically active materials such as vaccines, proteins, and microorganism cultures”.
Data from the study shows that EnWave’s freezeREV process reduces drying cycle times by 80% to 90% while maintaining product activity and stability when compared to lyophilization.
Lyophilization drying times are seen as a significant bottleneck for vaccine manufacturing. The research article also confirmed that EnWave’s freezeREV process demonstrates “comparability between EnWave’s freezeREV and freeze-dried samples” for drying uniformity and repeatability. The significant decrease in drying times was also accompanied by increased manufacturing flexibility.
Application within food and cannabis areas
EnWave has introduced REV as a disruptive dehydration platform in the food and cannabis sectors: faster and cheaper than freeze drying, with better end product quality than air drying or spray drying. EnWave currently offers two distinct commercial REV platforms: nutraREV which is a drum-based system that dehydrates organic materials quickly and at low-cost, and, quantaREV which is a tray-based system used for continuous, high-volume low-temperature drying.