Affinivax Inc has announced receipt of a $2.5 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This represents a follow-on investment from the Foundation based on the achievement of predefined, success-based milestones with the development program for a novel pneumococcal vaccine based on Affinivax’s Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS) platform. Proceeds from the funding will be used by Affinivax to advance its lead MAPS vaccine targeting Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) towards clinical testing.
Affinivax is utilizing its novel Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS) vaccine technology, developed initially at Boston Children’s Hospital, to develop and commercialize a MAPS vaccine targeting Streptococcus pneumoniae. MAPS overcomes the limitations of current conjugate vaccine technology, in which protection is limited to only 13 pneumococcal serotypes (or strains).
In addition to offering a much simpler and cost-efficient manufacturing process, the MAPS vaccine is designed to provide broader protection against both invasive disease as well as colonization and disease transmission – offering the potential to protect against all pneumococcal serotypes. These advantages have been confirmed in early product development and preclinical testing.
“This additional investment from the Gates Foundation validates the excellent progress we have made since we founded the company last year,” said Steven B. Brugger, CEO of Affinivax. “Based on the robust data from preclinical trials, demonstrating protection against both invasive disease and colonization, we will now advance our final vaccine candidate towards IND submission and proof-of-concept in clinical testing. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with the Gates Foundation to develop vaccines that can have a potential global impact on infectious disease.”
Affinivax received an initial $4 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in October 2014 which was announced in conjunction with the launch of Affinivax. Proceeds from the initial funding, along with the additional investment announced today, will be used to develop Affinivax’s MAPS technology platform and enable the development of novel vaccines for global impact to protect children and adults in both the developed and developing worlds, with an initial focus on the company’s lead pneumococcal vaccine.
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a bacterium frequently found in the upper respiratory tract of healthy children and adults, and can cause serious infections ranging from pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, representing a major global health problem. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.6 million people, including more than 800,000 children under 5 years old, die every year from pneumococcal infections, with most of these deaths occurring in low-resource countries.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that about 900,000 cases occur in the U.S. alone, resulting in up to 400,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths annually. While pneumococcal vaccines exist today, they only protect against up to 13 of the more than 90 potential pneumococcal serotypes (or strains).