Themis Biosciences nabs Institut Pasteur license for Zika vax; clinical trials planned


Even as some of the world’s largest drugmakers ante up in the Zika vaccine hunt, some smaller biotechs are looking to play their part in the search for a viable vaccine. Now, Austrian company Themis Bioscience says it’s planning to run clinical trials within 12 months through a partnership with Institut Pasteur.

Themis has expanded an ongoing partnership with the French research institution and signed a license deal in Zika based on malaria vaccine technology from Institut Pasteur. In a statement, Themis CEO Erich Tauber said he believes the project will benefit from the technology’s track record and production scalability.

With success, the biotech will join others said to be heading into Zika human trials such as Inovio Pharmaceuticals ($INO) and France’s Sanofi ($SNY) through a collaboration with the U.S. Army. Inovio touted its approval to head into the first clinical trials late last month, while Sanofi announced its U.S. Army pact last week. In that arrangement, Sanofi will prep for a Phase II study and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will sponsor a Phase I study.

More than a dozen other companies and organizations are actively searching for Zika vaccines, according to WHO tallies. After spending months on its feasibility studies, leading vax player GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) announced last week that it’s planning to evaluate a Zika vaccine with the NIH.

Themis, which raised €10 million in Series B funds last year, is also developing a Chikungunya vaccine with the Institut Pasteur platform that's set to head into Phase II later this year. In 2011, the company raised €5 million in a Series A round.

- here’s the release

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