The vaccine development specialist Themis Bioscience successfully closed a Series B financing round of 10 Mio Euro. The fresh capital will be used to complete a phase 2 clinical trial of its lead product, a vaccine candidate against Chikungunya fever. Further products that will benefit include the company's Zika virus vaccine whose development just recently received significant financial support by Innovate UK.
Dr. Erich Tauber, CEO and co-founder of Themis, on the successful completion of the company's second financing round: "We are delighted about the continuous trust of our existing investors and of Austria's leading Venture Fund aws Gruenderfonds. This trust and our recent excellent product development and technology progress have also attracted new investors and we are very grateful for their support." The now successfully closed investment round included the existing investors Ventech, Omnes Capital and Wellington Partners with the latter leading the round. New investors were undisclosed business angels with a focus on vaccine development and the aws Gruenderfonds.
Dr. Regina Hodits, General Partner at the lead investor Wellington Partners, comments on their investment decision: "Themis' focus on prophylactic vaccines for emerging tropical infectious diseases, its patented platform technology and the recent very encouraging results from a phase 1 clinical trial of its lead candidate make the company a very attractive investment opportunity. We want the company's vaccine portfolio to develop at a fast pace and are willing and determined to support Themis on its growth path."
At the heart of Themis' success lies the company's proprietary Themaxyn® platform. It uses a standard measles virus vaccine as a vector, developed at Institut Pasteur in Paris, and constitutes the basis of the company's pipeline. As measles vaccines have been successfully used in hundreds of millions of people globally, the Themaxyn® platform offers an excellent safety profile and clear advantages in terms of a validated, low-cost production process. Recent phase 1 clinical trial results of the company's lead product, a Chikungunya vaccine, proved the suitability of the vector for other indications and the observed immune responses encouraged the management to move this vaccine candidate rapidly to a phase 2 trial, which has been initiated earlier this year.
This progress not only pleased existing investors but also raised the interest of new ones such as the aws Gruenderfonds. Ralf Kunzmann, CEO of aws Gruenderfonds, comments: "We re happy to support Erich Tauber and his team in the further development of the promising prophylactic vaccines for emerging tropical infectious diseases and to be part of the strong investor syndicate. We are looking forward to take the next steps together with Themis."
Dr. Gerd Zettlmeissl, Chairman of the supervisory board of Themis, comments on the future company plans: "We are grateful for the trust of our existing and new investors and I am pleased to welcome Ralf Kunzmann of the aws Gruenderfonds as a new member of our supervisory board. The new capital will primarily be dedicated to finalize the phase 2 clinical trial of our Chikungunya vaccine and to prepare for respective phase 3 trials." Furthermore, Themis will use the additional investment to continue the exploitation of the know-how it acquired with the Chikungunya vaccine's development for further prophylactic vaccines. These include a vaccine against the Zika virus whose advance into the clinical trial phase by Themis was recently supported by the United Kingdom's innovation agency, Innovate UK, with 1 Mio. GBP.
About Themis (November 2016):
Themis Bioscience GmbH develops prophylactic vaccines from the preclinical to the early clinical phase, focusing on emerging tropical infectious diseases, with initial vaccine candidates currently being developed against Chikungunya and Zika. The company's highly innovative and fully patent-protected measles virus vaccine vector technology platform, licensed from the internationally respected Institut Pasteur in Paris, forms the basis for all current vaccine candidates of the Vienna-based company.
About the vaccine technology (November 2016):
The scientific basis for Themis' measles vector Themaxyn® platform has been developed at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and is licensed to Themis. It relies on the use of the standard measles vaccine as a vaccination vector. Genes coding for selected antigens from the chikungunya virus have been inserted into the genome of this well-established vaccine. The measles-chikungunya vaccine delivers the chikungunya antigens directly to macrophages and dendritic cells – the most potent and effective antigen-presenting cells, thereby triggering a specific immune response to chikungunya virus. This results in a powerful, antigen-focused immune response, which is most likely to confer long-term immunity as does the measles vaccine.
About aws Gruenderfonds (November 2016):
aws Gruenderfonds is Austrian's leading venture capital fund with around EUR 70 M EUR under management. The parent company is the Austrian Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbH (aws). The fund invests in Austrian startups with high growth potential in their early growth or expansion stage. aws Gründerfonds is a long term partner who takes hands-on approach and actively assembles a syndicate of international co-investors out of their international network. Currently the fund has invested in 20 startups, further investments in the life science segment include e.g. Miracor Medical Systems and Panoptes.