Icosavax, a new pharma company, focused on developing vaccines against infectious diseases, has been launched in Seattle, Washington.
The vaccine development company is backed by $51 million capital raised through a Series A financing round led by Qiming Venture Partners USA.
Other investors in Icosavax are Sanofi Ventures, Adams Street Partners, and NanoDimension, alongside continuing support from its seed investors.
The vaccine development company was established on computationally designed self-assembling virus-like particle (VLP) technology, which was developed at the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
Icosavax plans to use the proceeds of the Series A financing round to advance its first vaccine candidate – IVX-121 for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in older adults into phase 1b clinical trials.
Adam Simpson – CEO of Icosavax said: “Working closely with the Institute for Protein Design, we started Icosavax with seed funding from its philanthropic supporters.
“This support allowed us to assemble a world-class team and to help translate the scientific insights from IPD into IVX-121, our lead candidate for RSV. We are thrilled with the quality of the investor syndicate we have built who provide both significant expertise and financial support to enable advancement of IVX-121 into the clinic and the application of our VLP technology to a whole class of vaccine targets with significant unmet medical needs.”
According to Icosavax, VLPs facilitate high-density, multivalent display of antigens in a way that almost resembles viruses, with a key difference. VLPs do not contain any genetic material, which means they are non-infectious and can offer a safer alternative to live-attenuated or inactivated vaccines.
The new vaccine development company said that although naturally occurring VLPs have resulted in successful vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B, they have been difficult to use for the display of complex heterologous antigens, as in the case of respiratory syncytial virus, said Icosavax.
Mark McDade – managing partner of Qiming Venture Partners USA said: “We were extremely impressed with this novel approach using computational protein design to create VLP-based vaccines that have improved efficacy and are simple to manufacture.
“Our investment in Icosavax supports the value of science and technology to improve public health and our belief that preventing infection is preferable to treating illness.”
The RSV vaccine candidate IVX-121 is said to incorporate a stabilized prefusion F antigen licensed from NIAID/NIH (DS-Cav1; Science 2019). According to Icosavax, extensive preclinical studies that were held indicate that IVX-121 can boost the protective immunogenicity of RSV F in comparison to the DS-Cav1 antigen alone.