Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Checking in with Juvaris Biotherapeutics

Recall that Steven Dow, DVM, Ph.D., Professor in the departments of Clinical Sciences and Pathology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University, co-founded Juvaris Biotherapeutics.

Good or bad, Juvaris is now a Burlingame, CA-based biotechnology company, developing adjuvanted vaccines for infectious diseases. Recently a definitive agreement with Antigen Discovery, Inc. was announced providing Juvaris access to ADi's proprietary high-throughput protein microarray screening system to discover novel disease-specific antigens. Juvaris will sponsor research for multiple disease targets and pay ADi upfront payments, development milestones and royalties on licensed products in exchange for full product development rights to all fields except diagnostics, which will belong to ADi.

This deal comes on the heels of reporting results demonstrating that their universal influenza vaccine produces robust antibody responses and complete protection in H1N1 and H3N2 pre-clinical challenge models. Juvaris’ universal influenza vaccine has demonstrated significant induction of immunity with a novel construct of M2e, which is a conserved sequence found on all influenza A strains. The Juvaris universal flu vaccine is composed of conserved antigenic epitopes for both influenza A and B strains combined with its proprietary adjuvant, JVRS-100. The objective of the universal influenza vaccine is to improve the reliability and quality of protection by raising cross-protective immunity to all strains of influenza.

In clinic the JVRS-100 vax appears promising as well… In a Phase I study, 128 young adult subjects in groups of 20-24 were vaccinated with a licensed trivalent influenza vaccine with or without JVRS-100. Subjects receiving JVRS-100 adjuvanted vaccine were shown to have antibody responses to influenza A that were approximately two-fold higher than recipients of unadjuvanted vaccine. The adjuvant was well tolerated, and the incidence of adverse events following vaccination with JVRS-100 at effective dose levels was similar to that in the vaccine-alone groups.

The future appears encouraging for Juvaris, with a deal with Bayer Animal Health on the books and a diverse opportunity in seasonal, pandemic and universal influenzas, and herpes simplex virus-2, look for the company to close a new round of funding soon, possibly led by Kleiner Perkins again, to be reported at OnBioVC.

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