MADISON, NJ – Merck Animal Health will buy Harrisvaccines, a privately owned company that specializes in pet vaccines and vaccines for animals used for food production. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Harrisvaccines is known for its RNA Particle technology which uses pathogens collected from a farm. Specific genes are sequenced and inserted into RNA particles creating safe, potent vaccines that provide herd-specific protection.

The RNA technology enabled the company to develop a vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea (PEDv) that received a conditional license from the US Dept. of Agriculture in 2014. At that time, PEDv had killed approximately 8 million pigs and had spread to swine herds in 30 states. In September, the company recived a conditional approval for a Eurasian H5 subtype avian influenza vaccine, which led to USDA to award Harrisvaccines a contract to produce the vaccine.

“As a leader in biologics, Merck Animal Health has built a robust portfolio of vaccines across all animal species,” said Rick DeLuca, president, Merck Animal Health. “Combining Harrisvaccines’ R&D and portfolio of products with our strong capabilities and global reach will enable us to address even more devastating diseases that are impacting production animals and reinforce our commitment to the science of healthier animals.”

Merck added that Harrisvaccines has “a highly versatile production platform able to target a wide range of viruses and bacteria.”

“We are excited to join forces with Merck Animal Health,” said Dr. Hank Harris, founder and CEO of Harrisvaccines. “Their vaccine expertise, commercial reach and worldwide network of R&D and manufacturing sites, combined with our knowledge and novel technology, represents a tremendous opportunity to best serve producers and veterinarians as they protect the health of animals worldwide.”

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015.