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France’s Osivax raises over €30m for universal flu and coronavirus vaccines

Company’s technology designed to train immune system to recognise internal virus proteins

Osivax

French biotech company Osivax has received over €30m in public funding for the development of innovative universal vaccines targeting the novel coronavirus and influenza.

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has chosen Osivax to receive up to €17.5m in ‘blended financing’, including a specific €2.5m accelerator grant which will support the completion of the company’s phase 2a immunogenicity clinical trial of its lead universal flu candidate OVX836. The accelerator grant money will also go towards the early discovery phase of Osivax’ universal coronavirus vaccine programme.

The EIC also selected Osivax to receive funding support of up to €15m in equity towards the company’s ongoing series b fund-raising, which will be used to finance a large-scale OVX836 proof of efficacy study in 3,500 participants, as well as aiding the further development of its universal coronavirus vaccine.

The majority of vaccines, including those currently in development for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, target a specific protein and train the immune system to recognise this particular protein, and neutralise the microbe or virus that carries it. For viruses, the vaccine target usually resides on the surface where they can be easily recognised by white blood cells and antibodies.

Osivax is aiming to develop a vaccine which will be able to target all viral influenza strains, as well as one which will do the same for the current SARS-CoV-2 and future coronavirus strains.

The  company’s technology is designed to train the body’s immune system to recognise internal virus proteins -  this target is less prone to mutation compared to the external proteins, and are the same across all flu and coronavirus strains.

Although Osivax is further down the line in terms of development for a universal flu vaccine, the company is planning to deploy the same technology to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine. If successful, this vaccine would be effective against COVID-19, SARS and MERS, as well as other common cold coronaviruses.

According to Alexandre Le Verte, chief executive officer and co-founder of Osivax, the flu vaccine could reach the market by 2025, while the company plans to begin phase 1 clinical testing of a coronavirus vaccine candidate in 2021.

“Similar to influenza, which leads to regular global outbreaks, COVID-19 has the potential to mutate,” said Le Verte.

“The ability to protect people from the current and future coronavirus strains is a tremendous opportunity for us and we are particularly thankful for this funding and the validation that it provides our science and technology moving forward,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

9th July 2020

From: Research

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