St. Louis-Based Precision Virologics Receives $500,000 Investment in Biologically Targeted Vaccines for Zika and Chikungunya
St. Louis, MO (March 29, 2017) – Precision Virologics today announced a $500,000 investment from Oncolys BioPharma, a publicly traded Japanese company focusing on the development of novel viral-based biologics for the treatment of cancer and serious infectious diseases. This investment signals global interest in the St. Louis-based Precision, which is developing biologically targeted vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, including Zika and Chikungunya.
The half-million-dollar investment is the second major milestone in one week for Precision. Last Tuesday, the biotech company announced its entrance into a license agreement with the Office of Technology Management, the tech transfer arm of Washington University.
Precision Virologics CEO Daniel Katzman views the Oncolys BioPharma investment as a major win for public health and for the St. Louis region’s role in fighting the expanding threat of emerging infectious diseases. Both he and David T. Curiel, MD, PhD (whose research work led to the development of Precision’s core technology) credit BioGenerator for their introduction to the St. Louis biotech ecosystem.
“We are so fortunate to be in St. Louis, which at this moment feels like the epicenter of vaccine development,” said Katzman. “The initiative and tenacity of BioGenerator serve not only to bring companies here, but also to amplify the region’s reputation as a world-class research hub.”
That level of research is particularly important when it comes to public-health crises impacting populations around the world. Following the initial Zika outbreak, pharmaceutical companies rushed to market with sub-optimal vaccines.
“Precision’s biologically targeted vaccines have significant advantages over competitors,” explained Dr. Curiel. “Unlike other Zika vaccines, our vaccine candidate PV-ZIKV is biologically targeted to achieve maximized immunization. This is achieved based on our ability to engineer adenovirus to accomplish targeting selectivity at an unprecedented level.”
Yasunari Kashihara, Vice President of Oncolys BioPharma, said that the company’s investment is based on the great promise it sees in Precision Virologics’ technology. “We are not only impressed by the PV-ZIKV vaccine candidate, but also by the fast turnaround that the Precision platform technology allows,” Kashihara said. “This technology can potentially be used for rapid vaccine development for the next emerging disease, saving time that those who could contract these deadly diseases simply do not have.”
Harry Arader, who as Senior Entrepreneurial Advisor for BioGenerator helped conceptualize Precision Virologics and bring it to life in St. Louis, commended the company’s achievements. “Precision does phenomenal work within our St. Louis biotech ecosystem, partnering with such institutional resources as the Saint Louis University Center for Vaccine Development and the Washington University Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy,” said Arader. “The company also has strong relationships in the Dominican Republic, a major source of Zika cases. With the new investment from Oncolys BioPharma, we’re seeing Precision take a lead role in developing next-generation vaccines for emerging infectious diseases.”
About Precision Virologics
Precision Virologics’ biologically targeted adenovirus vaccines provide a new approach to the expanding threat of emerging infectious diseases. Emerging infectious diseases represent a grave threat to global health, agriculture and the economy. Zika infection continues to be a national healthcare priority. The markets for Zika vaccines is estimated at well over one billion dollars. The NIH and pharma companies rushed to the clinic with sub-optimal vaccines for Zika. Particularly they share a potentially fatal flaw related to the cross-reactivity with Dengue, which may limit their potential to get approved. The cross-reactivity of existing Zika vaccines may leave vaccinated individuals subject to a significantly more severe reaction to Dengue. Precision’s technology embodies critical advantages over competitors both in terms of potency and lack of cross-reactivity with Dengue. For more information, please visit www.precisionvx.com.
About Oncolys BioPharma
Oncolys BioPharma is a TSE Mothers-listed biopharmaceutical company with focuses on the development of novel biologics for the treatment of cancer and serious infectious diseases. The company’s lead oncolytic virotherapy, Telomelysin® (OBP-301), is based on replication-competent oncolytic adenovirus, and is being tested for hepatocellular cancer in Phase I/II clinical trial in Taiwan and Korea and for melanoma in Phase II in the USA. A new Phase I clinical trial for esophageal cancer for Telomelysin®-radiation combination therapy is to start in Japan this year. Oncolys also develops a novel cancer diagnostic oncolytic virus, TelomeScan® (OBP-401/1101) which is expected to be effective in detecting an early stage and a recurrence of cancer and inflammatory diseases, licensed to Liquid Biotech USA, Inc., University of Pennsylvania-launched biotech company specialized in liquid biopsy for cancer diagnostics. For more information, please visit http://www.oncolys.com/en/.
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