Like all RNA-based adjuvants, Poly-ICR is designed to enhance the response to the vaccine with which it is combined and reduce the amount of antigen needed to induce protective immunity. What sets Poly-ICR apart is its enhanced serum stability and resistance to degradation. An Nventa spokesman told in-PharmaTechnologist.com that: "Double stranded RNAs are produced during the replication cycle of some viruses and are known to trigger immune responses via the Toll Like Receptor 3 (TLR-3) [which is present on the surface of lymphocytes]." "When Poly IC is exposed to human serum it is rapidly degraded by RNAse and therefore loses adjuvant activity rapidly. The addition of Poly R (arginine) to Poly IC protects the active ingredient from degradation via the activity of RNAses," he added. The spokesman went on to explain that Poly-ICR, which is on-track to achieve good manufacturing practice (GMP) accredited status later this year, is manufactured in solution "by the heating of the bulk Poly I and Poly C and allowing the solution to cool until the duplex is formed. Poly R is added to the Poly IC duplex to make the final adjuvant formulation." He added that Nventa has: "Signed and provided material under a number of material transfer agreements (MTA). Since, the material is currently under external evaluation; we cannot discuss information around the interested parties." Technology licensing thriving A recent report by market research specialist RNCOS forecast that the global vaccine market will grow to be worth $21bn a year by 2010, driven by the increasing number of candidates that are being developed. At present major drugmakers like Pfizer, Wyeth and Merck dominate the sector. However, in recent years such organisations have increasingly sought to cut development costs through licensing deals and agreements with contract research organisations (CRO). This means that there is considerable scope for effective technologies to prosper. Nventa's CEO Gregory McKee said that the firm "believe that Poly-ICR will add tremendous value to Nventa's internal pipeline and to the programmes of vaccine developers worldwide, as we expect significant demand for Poly-ICR in the rapidly growing vaccine field, particularly where access to previously available TLR-based adjuvants has become restrictive." "The adjuvant's exceptional preclinical profile suggests that it may elicit robust, antigen-specific cellular immune responses in humans, enhancing the effect of both therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines against targeted antigens and pathogens," he added.