French biotech startup Osivax secures €8M to develop universal vaccine against influenza

French biotech startup Osivax secures €8M to develop universal vaccine against influenza

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A biotech startup from France, Osivax announced today that it has secured €8 million of financing through a Series A financing round to fund further progress in the clinical development of its lead flu vaccine candidate and to support strategic corporate growth. Osivax was founded in 2017 to translate its innovative oligoDOM technology platform into a vaccine pipeline. The most advanced program aims at inducing a paradigm shift in the prevention of seasonal and pandemic influenza. 

The financing was led by Noshaq, previously known as Meusinvest, a Belgian investment firm, and joined by Anaxago, an innovative investment platform that enables individuals to participate in fundraising for early-stage companies through a holding company. Osivax has secured a total of €11 million to-date, including its seed financing from Pradeyrol Développement and other family offices as well as recent non-dilutive funding from BPI France and Wallonia region (DGO6). 

Alexandre Le Vert, CEO and Co-founder of Osivax, said:

Currently available seasonal flu vaccines are limited in addressing all flu strains because they target highly variable regions of the virus. As such, they have to be updated on a yearly basis. In contrast, our universal flu vaccine approach uses a recombinant NucleoProtein (NP), a highly conserved antigen, which eliminates the need to cross-check and hypothesize about which influenza strains will be relevant in future seasons. Our vaccine has the potential to be effective year after year by providing a strong, long-term immune response against all circulating and emerging influenza viruses. Our goal is to establish proof-of-concept on Influenza A and then expand our pipeline to provide a universal flu vaccine.

The primary use of the funding will be to achieve clinical proof-of-concept for Osivax’s lead vaccine candidate, OVX836. The vaccine comprises a protein engineered to include the natural NP from an A-strain virus and the Company’s proprietary oligoDOM technology, an auto-assembling structure with a positively-charged tail that creates a large protein nanoparticle with multiple copies of the antigen. This proprietary structure facilitates the uptake into dendritic cells and increases the immunogenicity of the natural protein to trigger a more effective immune response, including an unprecedented CD8 T cell activation. The flu program has already demonstrated efficacy and cross-protection in mouse and ferret challenge models and is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial with initial results expected in the second half of 2019. 

The funding will also support the evaluation of a second-generation universal vaccine candidate, currently in preclinical development, which will cover both A- and B-strains of influenza. Osivax’s technology platform, oligoDOM provides a versatile basis to trigger effective immune responses with highly purified recombinant protein vaccines; this approach can be applied to a variety of infectious diseases and other immune system-associated diseases.

In conjunction with the Series A closing, Osivax is opening a new subsidiary in Liege, Belgium, in the heart of the Walloon region, which is a center for innovation in the field of vaccines, and home to the BioWin health cluster. 

Osivax’s mission is to revolutionize influenza prevention with a universal flu vaccine for both current and future Influenza A and B infections by leveraging its unique oligoDOM technology platform. The most advanced candidate, a broad-spectrum A-strain flu vaccine is in Phase 1 clinical development. Osivax is focused on providing proof-of-concept in Influenza A firstly to save lives and secondly to lay the groundwork for a universal flu vaccine as well as apply the platform to other infectious and immune system-associated diseases. 

— Press release

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more updates in the tech startup world.

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