Zika vaccine receives boost

The further development of a promising Zika vaccine candidate by Themis Bioscience has received a strong support by the United Kingdom's innovation agency, Innovate UK. Themis, specialists in vaccine development, will receive £1m supporting the further development of this prophylactic vaccine and the conducting of a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Today, Themis Bioscience GmbH (Vienna, Austria), a company specialised in vaccine development, announced that it will receive £1m 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 12 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.

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