ZURICH-SCHLIEREN, Switzerland, July 16 /PRNewswire/ -- GlycoVaxyn, a pioneer in the development of a new generation of innovative conjugated vaccines, today announced the closing of a CHF 11.5 million (ca. US$ 9.3 million, EUR6.9 million) Series A financing. Existing investors Sofinnova Partners (Paris) and Index Ventures (Jersey, Geneva, London) both significantly increased their equal investment in GlycoVaxyn, after having seeded the company in July 2006.
Simultaneously, GlycoVaxyn has appointed one of the vaccine industry's best known leaders, Michel Greco, as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Over the past several years, Mr. Greco has played a major role in increasing the awareness of the contribution of vaccines to innovation in the pharmaceutical markets and helping deliver it.
GlycoVaxyn will use the proceeds to advance its portfolio of novel conjugated vaccines that target common bacterial infections. Conjugated vaccines, which comprise an antigenic sugar residue and protein carrier (glycoproteins), offer improved protective power, particularly in infants. Proof of concept, demonstrating immunogenicity in animal models, has been achieved with several vaccine candidates. The financing proceeds will also be used to complete the preclinical development of a lead vaccine candidate as well as process optimisation and the establishment of a GMP production process.
Graziano Seghezzi, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, commented: "Sofinnova has been actively investing in the sugar space for a long time. Capitalising on our knowledge, we were immediately impressed by Glycovaxyn's dominant intellectual property position in the emerging field of bacterial glycosylation. We are pleased to have the opportunity to work with Michael Wacker and the rest of the GlycoVaxyn team on this exciting opportunity."
Conjugated vaccines have been produced since 1987, providing a means of safe protection against a growing range of life-threatening bacterial infections. With the perpetual rise in demand for conjugated vaccines, GlycoVaxyn has developed a proprietary technology that is able to simplify the production process compared with current methods, target multiple sugar antigens and create highly-defined products that may offer advantages in the regulatory approval process. This innovation in vaccine development will enable the company to address novel targets in both industrialized and in emerging countries, where production cost and efficiency are key issues.
"Since their initial investment last year, Index and Sofinnova have provided us with invaluable guidance. We are very pleased for their continued financial support, which will help drive development of our initial vaccine candidates towards clinical trials," noted Dr. Michael Wacker, Co-founder and Head of Technology Development. "We also welcome Michel Greco to the company as Chairman and the additions of Professors Paul-Henri Lambert (Chairman), Jan Holmgren and Gordon Dougan to our Scientific Advisory Board. We believe that Michel's extensive experience in the vaccine industry will provide not only support on the product development process but also an invaluable network that will offer guidance for business development."
Mr. Michel Greco has over 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, with an emphasis on vaccines. Most recently, he served, first as President and Chief Operating Officer, and later as deputy CEO, at Aventis Pasteur, until 2003. From 1994 to 1998, he helped establish and also served as President and CEO of Pasteur Merieux MSD, a joint venture between Merck & Co. and Pasteur Merieux Connaught. Mr. Greco has served as President of the European Vaccine Manufacturers, as Chairman of IFPMA'S (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations) biological group and as a member of the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts. He is Chairman of the board of directors of Intercell (Austria) and serves on the board of Vaxgen (USA) and Vivalis (France). He is also a member of the board of several private companies as well as of international non-profit institutions. Mr. Greco received a Master's degree from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario.
Prof. Paul-Henri Lambert has been elected Chairman of the SAB. Prof. Lambert is emeritus professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and chairs the Steering Committee of the European Research Consortium for new tuberculosis vaccines. Since 1987, he has directed vaccine research at the World Health Organization. Prof. Lambert directs the International Advanced Course of Vaccinology (ADVAC) organized under the auspices of the Fondation Merieux and of the University of Geneva.
Prof. Jan Holmgren, MD, PhD, is Professor of medical microbiology and immunology at Goteborg University, Sweden and Director of the Goteborg University Vaccine Research Institute (GUVAX). Prof. Holmgren and co-workers were responsible for the development of an oral B subunit-whole cell cholera vaccine all the way from basic concept to an internationally registered product. He currently serves on the Board of many institutions, including the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).
Prof. Gordon Dougan is currently a Principal Research Scientist and a member of the Board of Management at The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. He is an expert in vaccinology/pathogenic mechanisms, specialising in the immunology of mucosal vaccines and molecular basis of infection. He was previously the Director of the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London and a Professor of Physiological Biochemistry. He is currently a Honorary Professor at Cambridge and Nottingham Universities and a Visiting Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Prof. Dougan also worked for over ten years in industry, developing vaccines and novel drugs at an internationally renowned multinational company.
GlycoVaxyn is developing a broad portfolio of novel conjugate vaccines and other therapeutics against common, severe bacterial infections. The company uses proprietary technology that enables the development and production of immunogenic glycoproteins in a simplified process that circumvents many of the costly steps involved in current production methods. This allows GlycoVaxyn to target bacterial diseases for which an effective or affordable vaccine is currently not available. GlycoVaxyn, a spin-out of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), is based in Schlieren, near Zurich, Switzerland. For further information, visit www.glycovaxyn.com.