Neovacs gets public funding help for therapeutic lupus vaccine

In late 2014, Paris-based Neovacs reported a midstage clinical trial failure and took a big share price hit. The biotech shifted its focus to a separate candidate--IFNα-Kinoid for the treatment of lupus--and this week entered a public funding agreement that may assist it in commercializing that vaccine.

Neovacs CEO Miguel Sieler

The company announced Wednesday that its partnership with a Bpifrance commission will provide it with €5 million over four years to "finalize clinical development and initiate the industrialization process" of IFNα-Kinoid, the release said. Bpifrance's General Commission for Investment made the decision as part of the PIAVE-Industrial project for the future program.

Neovacs CEO Miguel Sieler said in a statement the program is "dedicated to the most promising industrial projects," adding that the "decision considers also the chances of success of this treatment for autoimmune diseases, specifically in Lupus, which affects more than 5 million patients around the world."

In December 2014, Neovacs' shares fell by more than half after the company reported a Phase IIb trial failure for TNF-Kinoid, an experimental rheumatoid arthritis vaccine. Prior to that announcement, Neovacs' cash was set to run out in 2015's second quarter. However, in announcing the trial failure it also said that timeframe was "significantly extended" due to a financing agreement with Kepler Cheuvreux.

With the new public funding, Neovacs says it aims to have its production site online by around 2020 with 50 to 100 employees in order to submit for approval with health authorities and to supply future licensing partners.

Lupus, caused when the immune system attacks its own tissue, affects more than 5 million people worldwide. According to Neovacs, no targeted therapy exists and, in the past 50 years, only one treatment has gained market approval for the condition.

- here's the release