From the press release. Meissa Vaccines (“Meissa”), a biotechnology company developing vaccines to prevent viral respiratory infections, announced today that it has closed a $3.4 million seed round to further develop its investigational vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The financing included numerous undisclosed individual investors and will be used to advance the company’s RSV vaccine candidate into clinical trials. To support these efforts, Meissa has had a successful FDA pre-IND meeting, completed manufacturing of clinical trial material, and recruited two outside industry veterans, Kenneth Kelley and William Daly, to join the company’s board of directors.
“I’m incredibly proud of the progress our team is making with our RSV vaccine candidate in terms of preclinical data and clinical trial material manufacturing,” said Martin Moore, Ph.D., cofounder, and CEO of Meissa. “Using human codon deoptimization and reverse genetics, our team has developed a live attenuated vaccine with global utility. Our potential game-changing universal pediatric RSV vaccine can be delivered as a single, intranasal dose.”
Prior to this latest seed round, Meissa had been awarded several highly competitive small business innovation research (SBIR) grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund Meissa’s vaccine research and development. Meissa completed a pre-Investigational New Drug (IND) meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year to ensure the company’s preclinical work was appropriately focused and would enable eventual human testing.
The seed funds have already enabled completion of manufacturing of clinical trial materials for Phase 1 and Phase 2 testing in adults and children, as well as for the advancement of vaccine candidates for human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus using the same technology platform. Meissa’s proprietary technologies of reverse genetics and human codon deoptimization allow for rapid generation of live attenuated vaccine candidates that may be safer yet more immunogenic than the natural pathogens and give them ideal properties for manufacturing and distribution.
“Meissa has significantly de-risked its lead vaccine candidate for RSV based on preclinical work and manufacturing process development and established a capital and time efficient development plan to potentially demonstrate safety and efficacy in both pediatrics and the elderly,” said Kenneth Kelley, former founder and CEO of specialty vaccine company PaxVax, recently sold to Emergent BioSolutions, Inc. “Their technology can be applied to additional respiratory viruses to encompass a portfolio of products and upside for the company.”
“The RSV market is commonly understood to represent a $6 billion opportunity, which is the largest remaining commercial opportunity in infectious disease vaccines,” said William Daly, who has held numerous senior business development, operations and finance positions at leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies including Portola Pharmaceuticals, Cougar Biotechnology, Akebia Therapeutics, Novartis, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Allergan. “All of the major vaccine manufacturers are looking for a viable vaccine for pediatrics and the elderly. The Meissa RSV vaccine can address both markets by using two distinct doses and formulations.”
About Meissa Vaccines
Meissa is a private biotech company focused on the advancement of vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the largest unmet respiratory medical need in pediatrics, and human metapneumovirus and parainfluenza virus, the next most significant respiratory diseases worldwide. Meissa was founded on proprietary technologies employing synthetic biologic and reverse genetics to create safer, more effective live vaccines. The technology is exclusively licensed from Emory University. Dr. Moore, together with Dr. Roderick Tang, a vaccine manufacturing expert, co-founded Meissa. They are supported by a team with extensive experience in all aspects of vaccine development. Meissa is currently a resident company at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation JLABS in South San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.meissavaccines.com.