MinervaX ApS, a biotechnology company headquartered in Denmark, has recently concluded an upsized financing round totaling €54 million. The primary objective of this funding is to accelerate the development of an innovative prophylactic vaccine targeting Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
The development of this vaccine is of paramount importance due to Group B Streptococcus (GBS) being a primary cause of life-threatening infections in newborns and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Existing preventive measures are insufficient in addressing GBS, underscoring the urgent demand for a new GBS vaccine.
The secured funding will empower MinervaX to advance its groundbreaking GBS vaccine towards Phase III clinical trials scheduled for 2024.
This financing round witnessed the participation of new investors EQT Life Sciences and Orbimed, alongside existing investors, including Novo Holdings, Pureos Ventures, Sanofi Ventures, Trill Impact Ventures, Adjuvant Capital, Wellington Partners, Industrifonden, Sunstone LifeScience Ventures, and LF Invest.
Vincent Brichard from EQT Life Sciences and Tal Zaks from OrbiMed will assume positions on the MinervaX Board of Directors.
Understanding Group B Streptococcus (GBS)
As per the company statement, Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is accountable for nearly 50% of all life-threatening infections in newborns. Approximately 15 to 25% of women face an immediate risk of GBS infection, potentially transmitting the bacteria to their infants either during birth or in the early months of the child’s life.
Infections of GBS in expectant mothers can result in adverse outcomes such as late abortions, premature delivery, and stillbirths. Newborns who contract GBS may experience sepsis, pneumonia, or meningitis, often leading to severe health complications, long-term disabilities, and even fatality.
The sole preventive measure currently available against GBS involves the intravenous administration of prophylactic antibiotics. However, this strategy has its limitations, from its inability to prevent in-utero and late-onset GBS infections to challenges in resource-limited settings.
Several health advocacy groups and institutions, including Group B Strep Support, Group B Strep International, and the World Health Organization (WHO), have recognized the imperative to develop a safe and effective GBS vaccine and raise awareness about the health implications associated with this bacterium.
The Ongoing Progress in GBS Vaccine Development
MinervaX is presently engaged in the development of two Phase II clinical trials involving 470 pregnant individuals across Denmark, the United Kingdom, Uganda, and South Africa. Preliminary reports have been encouraging, indicating that the vaccine displays high immunogenicity, maintains a favorable safety profile, and can stimulate the production of functional antibodies.
For detailed information regarding MinervaX’s clinical trials, one can refer to Clinical Trials’ website using the identifiers NCT04596878 and NCT05154578. Additionally, MinervaX is making headway with Phase I development of its innovative GBS vaccine for older adults, identified as NCT05782179.
Vincent Brichard, Venture Partner at EQT Life Sciences, expresses, “EQT Life Sciences is enthusiastic about actively participating in the development of MinervaX’s prophylactic GBS vaccine, with the goal of safeguarding the lives of newborns. We are impressed by the clinical data achieved thus far, the caliber of the team, and the imminent milestones that will enable MinervaX to initiate a registration trial.”
Tal Zaks, Partner at OrbiMed, adds, “We recognize the unmet need for enhanced protection against GBS disease for vulnerable populations and the potential for MinervaX’s vaccine to offer best-in-class efficacy. I eagerly anticipate collaborating with the MinervaX team to support the comprehensive development of this program.”