SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Vaxart Inc., a biotechnology
company focused on the development of oral vaccines, today announced
completion of a Series A financing. Quantum Technology Partners and Life
Science Angels led the round. Other investors include Bay Partners and Sand
In total, Vaxart has secured $3.3 million in new funding. The financing
raised $2.7 million. In addition, Vaxart announced that it was awarded
(under its former name of West Coast Biologicals) a National Institutes of
Health SBIR grant of $600,000 for development of the company's platform
technology. Vaxart will use the new capital to support late-stage
preclinical testing and IND preparation for its first product, a vaccine
for avian flu.
"The current round of funding will allow us to advance our avian flu
program, which we see as a critical proof of concept for our technology,"
said Mark Backer, PhD, Vaxart's CEO. "But this is just the launching pad
for what we believe is a broadly applicable oral delivery platform to
address many types of infectious disease."
Breakthrough Modular Strategy
Vaxart has developed a proprietary, modular approach to vaccine
creation that, the company believes, will enable it to produce a portfolio
of products much more efficiently than has been previously possible.
Key to Vaxart's efforts is a unique adjuvant, the vaccine component
that enhances immune response to a foreign protein. Vaxart uses an adjuvant
that works through a "toll-like receptor" (TLR). TLRs have been widely
applied in vaccines and are well accepted as effective immune stimulators.
Vaxart's approach differs in that it employs TLR-3, the only TLR known to
be fully active in the gastrointestinal tract. This means that Vaxart's
vaccines can stimulate a potent immune response when given orally, in
contrast to other TLR-based vaccines -- and most vaccines in general --
which must be injected.
Another breakthrough feature is the ability to employ the same vector,
or delivery vehicle, across all vaccines. Usually, each vaccine requires a
different vehicle, because antibodies build up against the vector proteins
after initial exposure. Subsequent vaccines become less effective, as the
body attacks the drug molecule before a response can be mounted against the
disease target. Vaxart has overcome this obstacle and has demonstrated that
strong immune responses can be generated against multiple diseases
following a series of different oral vaccines.
This potential to "reuse" a vector opens the door to the company's
modular drug design, in which the core components of the vaccine remain the
same and only the antigen changes. Using such a strategy, Vaxart will be
able to produce new vaccines through a standardized and low-cost process,
while at the same time reducing regulatory risk because data from one
vaccine will help establish the safety of others created through the
"There are obvious clinical advantages to Vaxart's approach, in that
oral vaccines are preferable to injectables for essentially all
indications," said Sean Tucker, PhD, vice president of research and
principal investigator of the SBIR grant. "But there are numerous technical
advantages as well. In particular, the ability to use the same vector
across multiple vaccines is a major advance that greatly speeds up product
development and differentiates Vaxart from other companies in this field."
Vaxart's initial efforts have focused on new vaccines for pandemic
illnesses, as a way to quickly test the company's platform while addressing
important threats to public health. Moving forward, Vaxart intends to
develop next-generation, oral alternatives to existing vaccines with proven
market potential. Given the efficiency of its modular strategy, Vaxart
believes such candidates could enter clinical testing within 18 months of
"Vaxart has clear advantages in terms of time to market, clinical
convenience, and commercial opportunities," noted Barry Dickman, general
partner of Quantum Technology Partners. "Together, these put the company in
a strong position to establish a new standard in the vaccine arena."
About Vaxart (http://www.vaxart.com)
Vaxart is a privately held biotechnology company focused on the
development of oral vaccines. Vaxart's proprietary approach is ideally
suited for modular creation of vaccines, enabling the company to
efficiently produce a large portfolio of drugs while lowering development
risk. Vaxart intends to apply its platform to develop first-in-class
vaccines for pandemic illnesses as well as to create oral alternatives to
current vaccines. Vaxart's lead product is a vaccine for avian flu, which
the company expects to enter clinical testing in 2008.
About Quantum Technology Partners
For information about Quantum Technology Partners, see
About Life Science Angels
For information about Life Science Angels, see
About Bay Partners
For information about Bay Partners, see http://www.baypartners.com.
About Sand Hill Angels
For information about Sand Hill Angels, see http://www.sandhillangels.com.