Inventprise has grown slowly in Redmond, Washington, expanding into four research and manufacturing facilities to support the initial development of a range of vaccines since its founding in 2012.
The company is now poised to advance an experimental vaccine for pediatric pneumococcal disease in human trials with new funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation will provide up to $ 90 million for Phase 1 and 2 trials of the vaccine, depending on Inventprise development and manufacturing milestones.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of death from infectious diseases in children around the world. The disease accounts for 15% of deaths in children under the age of five and killed more than 800,000 in 2017, according to the World Health Organization.
Infantile pneumococcal disease can be caused by dozens of microbes, but current vaccines do not offer complete protection. Inventprise’s experimental vaccine protects against 25 bacteria, more than currently used vaccines.
“The vaccine we designed increased the number of strains to increase the umbrella of protection,” CEO Subhash caper he told GeekWire in an email.
The company has grown to more than 100 employees and previously received more than $ 100 million from the Gates Foundation.
Inventprise also provides contract services to life science companies at its R&D and manufacturing facilities in Redmond. Its fourth facility, at 70,000 square feet, will be fully operational in 2022.
Contract services make up only a small revenue stream now, but the company aims to develop that portion of its business next year.
Inventprise’s pneumococcal vaccine is based on a technology that allows multiple components of the vaccine to be put together without losing the potency of the vaccine. The key is a “linker” molecule that connects the components and increases their visibility to the immune system, allowing for a strong protective response.
Declining effectiveness can plague vaccines as more components are added. But the Inventprise linker allows for the development of multi-component but high-potency “conjugated” vaccines.
The company says its pneumococcal vaccine candidate outperforms approved shots in preclinical studies.
The linker was developed in-house after the company was founded by Kapre, a former executive of the Serum Institute of India, a large vaccine manufacturer.
Kapre’s team at Inventprise first tested the linker in preclinical studies for a Haemophilus type A influenza vaccine.
“Surprisingly, applying it to other conjugated products we found that it yielded similar results, and we quickly realized we had a technology platform at our fingertips that could be used for the development of a number of conjugated vaccines,” said Kapre. The linker is used in six other candidate vaccines at Inventprise.
The company has preclinical programs for rotavirus, shigella, yellow fever, meningitis, and other diseases. It is also in the early stages of developing a pediatric COVID-19 vaccine to protect against several variants.
The new funding is part of the Gates Foundation strategic investment fund to support the private sector. If the new vaccine is successful, it will be affordable and affordable for low- and middle-income countries, according to the foundation.
“The scientific community must strive to develop more effective vaccines to protect the most vulnerable children from multiple strains of this devastating disease,” he said. Keith Klugman, director of the foundation’s pneumonia program, in a press release. In addition to pneumonia, pneumococcal bacteria can also cause ear and sinus infections and other diseases.
The market is potentially huge. Pfizer’s Prevnar-13 vaccine has gone into action $ 5.95 billion in sales for the pharmaceutical giant last year.
Pfizer and Merck are competing to develop new pneumococcal vaccines. This summer, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s new 20-strain vaccine and Merck’s 15-strain vaccine in adults. Both companies are aiming for approval for children, which represent 80% of the market.
Future iterations of Inventprise’s pneumococcal vaccine could generate even broader protection. The company is now testing an injection against 32 bacterial strains. Kapre said the researchers “will continue to add as many strains as the technology allows.”