Lyon-based biotech startup Osivax raises €8 million to develop novel, universal flu vaccines

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Lyon–based biotech startup Osivax was founded in 2017 to develop a universal flu vaccine that will be effective year after year, despite mutations of the virus.

The startup has just raised €8 million in financing led by Noshaq, a Belgian investment firm, and joined by Anaxago, an investment platform that enables individuals to participate in fundraising for early-stage companies. Osivax has secured a total of €11 million to-date.

“Currently available seasonal flu vaccines are limited in addressing all flu strains because they target highly variable regions of the virus,” said Alexandre Le Vert, CEO and co-founder of Osivax. “As such, they have to be updated on a yearly basis. In contrast, our universal flu vaccine approach uses a recombinant NucleoProtein (NP), a highly conserved antigen, which eliminates the need to cross-check and hypothesize about which influenza strains will be relevant in future seasons. Our vaccine has the potential to be effective year after year by providing a strong, long-term immune response against all circulating and emerging influenza viruses. Our goal is to establish proof-of-concept on Influenza A and then expand our pipeline to provide a universal flu vaccine.”

Osivax plans to use the funding to achieve clinical proof-of-concept for its lead vaccine candidate, OVX836. The flu program has already demonstrated efficacy and cross-protection in mouse and ferret challenge models and is currently being tested in a Phase I clinical trial with initial results expected in the second half of 2019.

The funding will also support the evaluation of a second-generation universal vaccine candidate, currently in preclinical development, which will cover both A- and B-strains of influenza. Osivax’s technology platform, oligoDOM® provides a versatile basis to trigger effective immune responses with highly purified recombinant protein vaccines; this approach can be applied to a variety of infectious diseases and other immune system-associated diseases.

In conjunction with the Series A closing, Osivax is opening a new subsidiary in Liege, Belgium, which is a center for innovation in the field of vaccines, and home to the BioWin health cluster.