SutroVax Closes $110 Million Series D to Advance Pneumonia Vaccine

The company’s lead vaccine candidate, SVX-24, is a preclinical, 24-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Foster City, California-based SutroVax closed on a Series D preferred stock financing worth $110 million. It was co-led by new investors RA Capital Management and Janus Henderson Investors. The company’s existing institutional investors, TPG Growth, Abingworth, Longitude Capital, Frazier Health Care Partners, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Medixci, CTI Life Sciences, Roche Venture Fund, and Foresite Capital also participated.

SutroVax focuses on developing vaccines and has an exclusive license to Xpress CF, an industrialized cell-free protein synthesis platform, which allows for precise conjugation and fast production of complex antigens. The company says the platform separates “the precise cellular machinery required for transcription, translation, and energy production into an E. coli-derived Extract capable of continuous oxidative phosphorylation.”

“Our primary mission is to deliver the best and most broadly protective vaccines to prevent pneumonia in adults and children,” said Grant Pickering, chief executive officer and founder of SutroVax. “We are delighted to welcome respected life-science investors RA Capital Management and Janus Henderson Investors to join with our syndicate of private equity and venture capital backers, as we work to advance the most broad-spectrum pneumococcal vaccine candidates to the clinic.”

The company’s lead vaccine candidate, SVX-24, is a preclinical, 24-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). It includes 11 incremental strains more than the 13 in the standard-of-care pneumococcal vaccine, Pfizer’s Prevnar 13. This includes strains related to high fatality rates, antibiotic resistance and meningitis.

SutroVax’s PCV pipeline includes SVX-XP, a vaccine to cover at least 30 strains of bacteria that cause invasive pneumococcal disease and antibiotic resistance.

As part of the financing, Derek DiRocco, from RA Capital Management, and Agustin Mohedas, from Janus Henderson Investors, will join the SutroVax board of directors as observers.

In a joint statement, DiRocco and Mohedas said, “SutroVax is tackling a significant, growing issue given the threat of pneumococcal disease and other infectious diseases, where new strains are hampering effective preventative measures. SutroVax has made significant strides to date, and we look forward to the advancement of its lead candidate into clinical development as well as the expansion of its innovative platform.”

Pneumococcal disease is caused by a bacterial infection by Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can result in pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis, ear and sinus infections, and cause secondary infections from other respiratory pathogens. About 900,000 people are diagnosed with pneumococcal pneumonia annually in the U.S., causing about 28,000 deaths.

In September 2019, the company was awarded up to $15 million in non-dilutive funding to develop a universal vaccine to prevent Group A Strep bacterial infections, which includes pharyngitis, impetigo, and necrotizing fasciitis. This was awarded by CARB-X, a global non-profit partnership led by Boston University. Its focus is on accelerating antibacterial research for drug-resistant bacteria. Its funding is restricted to projects that target drug-resistant bacteria listed on the CDC’s 2013 Antibiotic Resistant Threats or the Priority Bacterial Pathogens list published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017. The priority is on infectious agents deemed Serious or Urgent on the CDC list or Critical or High on the WHO list.

CARB-X is investing more than $500 million from 2016 to 2021 in support of innovative antibiotics and other therapeutics, vaccines and rapid diagnostics. CARB-X funding comes from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the UK’s Wellcome Trust, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the UK Department of Health and Social Care’s Global Antimicrobial Resistance Innovation Fund (UK GAMRIF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and in-kind support from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).