KU Leuven spin-off AstriVax raises €30m to build vaccine platform
The funding round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. The other investors are Flanders Future TechFund, Thuja Capital, Ackermans & van Haaren, Mérieux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity, and the KU Leuven Gemma Frisius Fund.
AstriVax intends to use the seed capital to bring its first thermostable yellow fever vaccine to the clinical development stage and to further develop its pipeline vaccine candidates – one to prevent rabies and one to treat chronic hepatitis B.
Addressing challenges in vaccine distribution
To do so, the company is drawing on technology developed at the KU Leuven Rega Institute, based on the ground-breaking work of Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier, and designed to address major challenges in vaccinology, such as the duration of protection and the ease of production.
Leveraging such a platform means the novel vaccines will no longer require a strict cold chain, so getting them from the factory to patients will be easier, even in tropical and subtropical regions, according to the developer.
Caroline Goddeeris, principal at Fund+, said the investors are convinced that the thermostable plug-and-play vaccine technology has great potential to prevent and treat a large array of diseases through the "remarkable immune response" it elicits.
AstriVax will be headquartered at the BioHub in Haasrode, Leuven, in Belgium and Hanne Callewaert is named as its CEO. She brings over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry to this role, including several leadership positions in companies such as GSK and Oxurion.
“I feel privileged to work with the world-renowned team of Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier to spin out this vaccine platform technology that holds such broad potential in addressing unmet medical needs. Being funded and supported by a strong consortium of investors will bring AstriVax’s technology into clinical validation. I see this as a strong confirmation of the confidence in the potential of the technology, team, and collaborations.”
Professor Neyts, AstriVax co-founder, said: “After more than ten years of hard work and dedication, our academic team has developed and refined a novel, potent, and versatile vaccine approach. Kai Dallmeier and I are thrilled that AstriVax will bring our revolutionary vaccine technology to clinical development. This will significantly increase the number of people we can protect and treat against dreadful infectious diseases on all continents.”