Today, Themis Bioscience GmbH (Vienna, Austria), a company specialized in vaccine development, announced that it will receive 1 Mio. GBP in funding by the innovation agency of the United Kingdom, Innovate UK. The funds will accelerate the further development of a vaccine candidate against the Zika virus infection and its first clinical trial. The vaccine candidate is based on Themis' proprietary Themaxyn® platform that uses a well-established measles vaccine vector whose core technology has been developed at the Institut Pasteur, France.
Dr. Erich Tauber, CEO and founder of Themis welcomes the support: "We recently succeeded in quickly advancing a Chikungunya vaccine candidate into Phase 2 clinical trials and Themis demonstrated its expertise in the fast and focused development of promising vaccines. Thanks to the support of Innovate UK, we can now apply our platform technology for the further development of our prophylactic Zika vaccine candidate, which will address the worldwide emerging Zika threat."
In the past twelve months, Themis identified several suitable validated Zika antigens for the development of the vaccine. The company's team had tested a number of candidate vaccines in animal models, and has already initiated a toxicity study and GMP manufacturing. The main part of the program supported by Innovate UK is the Phase 1 clinical trial, as well as the development of a thermostable formulation for the vaccine.
One of the major advantages of the Zika vaccine candidate of Themis is a validated as well as cost-efficient production process. The measles vector technology developed by Themis forms the basis of all current vaccine candidates advanced by the company. It allows a rapid upscaling of the very cost effective vaccine production process once the vaccine candidate has been determined. This ability is critical for a vaccine that is supposed to combat diseases such as Zika from spreading in highly populated areas. Additionally, the measles vaccine has already proven its high efficacy and safety on well over a billion individuals over the last 30–40 years, and the technology offers an excellent safety profile. Under the terms of a broad license agreement with the Institut Pasteur, Themis owns the rights to use the measles vector for a wide range of indications including Chikungunya and Zika.
About Themis (September 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 Dengue. 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:
The core technology of the measles vector 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 zika virus have been inserted into the genome of this well-established vaccine. The measles-zika vaccine delivers the zika antigens directly to macrophages and dendritic cells – the most potent and effective antigen-presenting cells, thereby triggering a specific immune response to zika 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 Innovate UK:
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. It works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drives the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. For further information visit www.innovateuk.gov.uk