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April 25, 2023

Torigen unveils Farmington HQ with eye on new animal cancer vaccine

HBJ PHOTO | ROBERT STORACE Torigen CEO Ashley Kalinauskas

Torigen Pharmaceuticals Inc. – which is in the process of developing new cancer vaccine products for pets – has settled into a new 9,090-square-foot headquarters space in Farmington as it continues its growth trajectory. 

Torigen had been a member of UConn’s Technology Incubation Program at 400 Farmington Ave., in Farmington since 2017. The company signed the lease for its new headquarters at 6 Executive Drive in December 2021. It had been working at both sites until April 14, when it fully consolidated into the Executive Drive property, according to founder and CEO Ashley Kalinauskas. 

Torigen showcased its new office on Monday, giving attendees tours of the new facility, which includes 3,000 square feet of manufacturing space, as well as inventory/management and general office space. Torigen also added a new HVAC system, new carpeting, and a built-out clean room, which allows clean air to be blown down onto the manufacturing space.

The company has grown from a one-person show, Kalinauskas, to 25 full-time employees today, including a chief innovation officer, chief financial officer, quality scientists, and production technicians.

Kalinauskas said the company hired most of its staff in the past two years and is working to  launch new products.

Torigen has eight patents for VetiVax, a cancer vaccine for pets. The vaccine is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center of Veterinary Biologics, as an experimental therapy with unproven safety and efficacy, but the company is working toward obtaining a conditional licensure, which Kalinauskas said could come within 18 months.

“It would allow us not to have the experimental label and to expand our market,” she told the Hartford Business Journal.

Torigen works with 400 veterinary clinics in using VetiVax, or about 10% of the total number of clinics in the country. VetiVax is a less-invasive option than chemotherapy and has been used on thousands of animals nationwide, she said.

To date, In the first quarter of 2023, Kalinauskas said 319 vaccines have been administered to 235 dogs, 49 horses, 29 cats, two ferrets, two goats, one rabbit, and one donkey.

The company has more than a dozen investors, including primary investor Connecticut Innovations. It has raised $16 million in total since its inception, Kalinauskas said.

She said this month the  company signed on with Veterinary Management Group, which represents 2,000 veterinary clinics nationwide, as a preferred partner. 

“We can present to those clinics and offer discounts,” she said.

The company hopes to unveil several new products over the next several years, Kalinauskas said.

They include, she said, a second version of VetiVax, which would stimulate more of the animal’s immune system. Kalinauskas said she hopes to have that on the market next year.

In addition, Kalinaskas said, the company is focusing on a new product to help dogs and cats with immune-mediated diseases, including dry-eye and lymphoma, among others. She hopes to have that on the market in 2025.

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