Funding package helps launch university spin-out focused on pharma sector
The University of Liverpool has formed a new spin-out company, ReNewVax, to develop new technology that will radically transform the global incidence of bacterial infectious diseases.
It follows the award of £299,578 Innovate UK seed funding matched by funding from the University of Liverpool’s Enterprise Investment Fund.
ReNewVax’s approach is based on the rational design of vaccine candidates that will address some of the most challenging bacterial infections.
The company’s platform has the potential to produce safe, easy-to-manufacture and affordable next generation vaccines for global use.
Prof Aras Kadioglu, co-founder and director of ReNewVax, said: “We are very excited to have been awarded seed funding from Innovate UK to support our spin-out venture. The capital will allow us to complete the pre-clinical studies for our novel pneumococcal vaccine and raise further investment to undertake initial clinical development through Phase I/II studies.”
The company’s lead programme is developing a vaccine targeting a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae, also commonly known as the pneumococcus, one of the primary causes of life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis, accounting for over 1.2 million deaths worldwide each year.
Pneumococcus spreads through contact with people who carry the bacteria in their nose and throat eg, via respiratory droplets.
People, especially children, can be carriers without showing any signs of disease, and can then spread the bacterium to others. As such, vaccines are the best way to prevent the transmission and onset of pneumococcal disease.
Dr Marie Yang O’Brien, co-founder and chief scientific officer of ReNewVax, said: “We have fine-tuned the design and formulation of our pneumococcal vaccine, using a variety of techniques that have enabled us to maximise the magnitude of protection and breadth of coverage that our vaccine will provide.”
ReNewVax’s proprietary pneumococcal vaccine is anticipated to enter early phase clinical trials in 2025.
The company’s pipeline also includes vaccine candidates to combat diseases caused by the bacterium Streptococcus agalactiae, a global cause of sepsis and meningitis in newborns, as well as a vaccine to Streptococcus pyogenes, the causative agent of necrotising fasciitis, commonly known as flesh-eating disease.
Dr Neil Murray, interim chief executive of ReNewVax, said: “A huge amount of work has gone into establishing the ReNewVax platform and, with the support of the University of Liverpool and Innovate UK, we are now in a position to take this forward commercially.
“Events over the past two years have highlighted how important vaccines are for global health. ReNewVax’s ability to rapidly design and develop vaccines against the unmet need of some of the most challenging bacterial infections has the potential to make a significant impact in global healthcare.”
Prof Anthony Hollander, pro-vice-chancellor for research and impact at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is another example of ground breaking research developed at the University of Liverpool, and I’m delighted that we have been able to invest match funding in the company through the University Enterprise Board’s Enterprise Investment Fund.”