Firm Run by UMass Amherst Graduate Licenses Rotavirus DNA Vaccines for Animal Health

AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts alumnus Keith N. Haffer, originally of Belmont, is the president of a South Dakota company that has licensed from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center the exclusive, worldwide rights to an issued patent for veterinary applications of DNA Vaccines for Rotavirus Infections.

Haffer received a master’s degree in 1976 and a Ph.D. in 1978 from the UMass department of veterinary and animal sciences in veterinary virology and immunology. His advisor was Martin Sevoian, now retired. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston University. Haffer is now president of Braasch Biotech, Inc., Garretson, S.D.

"The licensing of this patent allows Braasch to enter a new phase in veterinary vaccines," Haffer said. "By incorporating our novel delivery systems with this patented technology, we can anticipate registration of DNA vaccines for veterinary applications on the U.S. and international markets within three to five years."

The patent, issued May 1997 to the UMass Medical Center and John E. Herrmann, professor of molecular genetics and microbiology, is the first-ever DNA vaccine patent issued for a specific infectious agent. Rotavirus is one of the world’s most costly diseases, killing millions of humans and livestock each year worldwide.

Braasch Biotech is a privately held biotechnology/biopharmaceutical company and, according to Haffer, is seeking first to enter the animal health market with its rotavirus vaccines and then to expand into human vaccines using proprietary delivery system technology.