BioWorld International Correspondent

MUNICH, Germany Apovia AG closed a third round of financing, raising EUR19 million (US$17.1 million) from a private consortium of investors led by Heidelberg Innovation.

“Apovia has a platform technology which, given the preclinical data, looks very potent and could possibly become a universal antigen platform,” Berthold Hackl, managing partner at Heidelberg Innovation, told BioWorld International. “They also have a nice portfolio of potential vaccines, including a clinical candidate.”

The company, which is based in Martinsried, will use the funding to validate its CorVax technology in humans and to further develop its product pipeline of preclinical and clinical candidate compounds. CorVax is an antigen delivery and carrier platform designed to stimulate high levels of antibody production and increase cellular immunity. It is in Phase I testing.

Apovia concentrates on preventing and treating infectious diseases with vaccines. The company said the vaccine market is ripe for a renaissance and it is positioning itself to be a leader in the segment.

“The development of antibiotic resistance in some infectious diseases, high unmet medical needs for diseases for which there is no vaccine, and the [anthrax attacks] after Sept. 11 have all reinforced the need for effective vaccines,” said Martin Steiner, Apovia’s CEO. “We think that CorVax is a potent platform technology, and we plan to apply this promising carrier technology to several different target diseases.”

The company has product candidates under development that include vaccines against malaria, influenza, otitis media and bacterial meningitis. The influenza vaccine is being developed in partnership with the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology, a consortium of universities in the Netherlands. Apovia also works in partnership with the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, a project run by the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, an international non-governmental organization, and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Apovia was formed in December 2000 when EVAX Technologies AG, of Martinsried, acquired Immune Complex Corp., of San Diego, in an all-stock transaction. ICC was founded in 1994 and was the original developer of the CorVax technology. EVAX was founded in 1997 and first focused on developing bacterial vaccines.

Other investors in this round of financing include Genavent, Société Générale Asset Management and VCH Equity Group AG. Investors from earlier rounds, including 3i, Global Life Science Holding II GmbH, Oxford Bioscience Partners and private individuals, also added capital in the current round. Before the current round of funding, Apovia had raised DM25 million (US$11.4 million). As part of the deal, representatives of Heidelberg Innovation and Genavent will join Apovia’s supervisory board.

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