Themis, EU partners nab €5M to form Zika vax group

Themis and collaborators in Europe have teamed up to create the newest Zika vaccine partnership.

With €5 million in government funding, Themis and European collaborators have teamed up to create the newest Zika vaccine partnership. Together, they’ll work with Themis’ vaccine tech, currently being deployed by the biotech against the Chikungunya virus.

Dubbed ZIKAVAX, the partnership includes the European Vaccine Initiative, Institut Pasteur and the French research organization Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives.

The partners nabbed €5 million in assistance from EU’s Horizon 2020 to conduct their research. That funding comes shortly after Themis in September won £1 million in support from Innovate UK to move the Zika vaccine into clinical trials.

Institut Pasteur originally developed the measles vaccine vector technology, and Themis recently licensed the platform for use in Zika.

Last month, Themis announced that it closed a €10 million Series B round to support its Chikungunya and Zika vaccine projects. In Chikungunya, Themis says it has “the most advanced” vaccine, one it has advanced to phase 2 testing.

“The recently phase 1 clinical trial results of our lead product, a Chikungunya vaccine, which is now tested in a phase 2 trial, have proven the suitability of the vector for other indications and we will now pursue the adaption of the technology for developing a Zika vaccine,” CEO Erich Tauber said in a statement.

Though the tests remain early, a big payoff could await in Zika. Several players have moved into human trials, eying a potential $1 billion dollar market as some have predicted travelers could pay a high price for protection.

Larger companies in the Zika vax hunt are GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi and Takeda, which each partnered with U.S. government agencies to develop their respective candidates.