Aelix Therapeutics, a drug development company specialized in the discovery and development of immunotherapies against HIV infection, announces that it has completed a Series A funding round of €11.5 M ($12.7 M). Ysios Capital, a Spanish investment fund, led the round. The fundraising was also supported by a syndicate of new investors including Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. ("JJDC"), and Caixa Capital Risc, the venture capital division of Spain’s leading financial group, 'la Caixa'.
With this fundraising, the company welcomes four new board members: Dr. Karen Wagner from Ysios Capital, José Antonio Mesa from Caixa Capital Risc, Jordi Naval, co-founder of the company, and Jeanne Bolger from JJDC.
The proceeds will support the development of the HTI immunogen as a therapeutic vaccine against HIV infection up to the completion of a Phase 2 proof-of-concept efficacy trial in HIV-infected individuals. Clinical trials are expected to start by third quarter of 2016. The HTI immunogen has the potential to become the first immunotherapy to produce a 'functional cure' for HIV infection. It works by eliciting an effective T-cell immune response to the virus in vaccinated individuals. It is estimated that more than 36.9 million people in the world are HIV-positive, with 2 million new cases in 2014.
“We are delighted to have closed such an important equity round. The investment syndicate includes many complementary parties, specifically the corporate investors from pharmaceutical companies with expertise in virology and vaccine development. We also look forward to working with the research community to test this concept,” said Dr. Christian Brander, ICREA investigator at Irsicaixa and chief scientific officer and co-founder of Aelix Therapeutics.
“We believe that Aelix’s innovative approach, based on a disruptive design of a T-cell immunogen that is able to elicit a strong, broad and focused response against HIV, has the potential to radically transform the treatment of HIV infection, still one of the largest health problems in the world,” said Karen Wagner from Ysios Capital. “We were impressed by the science and the preclinical data supporting the HTI immunogen. We believe that this may indeed change the future of how HIV infection is treated and also help to improve the health of millions of people globally.”
“We are very proud that the quality of Drs. Brander, Clotet, Gatell and HIVACAT’s scientific work for more than 20 years has attracted such a high caliber investor group,” said Jordi Naval, co-founder of Aelix Therapeutics and board director. “We look forward to working with them to build the company further and make Aelix a powerhouse for HIV therapeutics.”
“HIV still has a high-unmet medical need, even in the western world. Achieving a functional cure would allow people living with HIV to discontinue anti-retroviral therapy and thereby ease the overall burden on treatment and healthcare systems, as well as reduce the social stigma associated with daily medication,” said José Antonio Mesa, from Caixa Capital Risc. “We are proud to continue the work done for years by Obra Social 'la Caixa', turning IrsiCaixa into a pioneering center where highly innovative projects such as Aelix are developed.”