Pharmaceutical company, BiondVax, has secured a €20m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) to launch Phase 3 trials on its universal flu vaccine M-001.
With the funding, BiondVax has the resources to launch the Phase 3 trials and set up a mid-sized manufacturing plant, company CEO Ron Babecoff said.
The loan comes under the infectious diseases project of ‘InnovFin – EU finance for Innovators’, a collaboration between the EIB and the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme.
Seasonal flu vaccine effectiveness currently rests at around 40-50%, but can be as low as 9% in elderly people, according to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Different from common vaccines that use natural immunogen to elicit immune responses, M-001 uses the epitope-based approach and consists of nine widely conserved flu epitopes. The company designed it to protect against current and future seasonal and pandemic flu strains.
Previous studies have shown that the shot is safe and immunogenic, and that it can enhance and expand the benefits of current flu vaccines. In particular, a study published recently in the journal Vaccine reported that M-001, when used as a primer to trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV), can protect against future flu strains not known at the time of vaccination.
Currently, BiondVax is developing its vaccine in a two-part strategy. First, the company is advancing its shot as a universal primer to be used before any hemagglutinin-based seasonal or pandemic vaccine.
The company is then seeking to obtain approval for M-001 as a stand-alone universal flu vaccine.