Apollon Inc., which in March 1996 began the first clinical trial of aDNA-based AIDS vaccine in healthy volunteers, raised nearly $10million in the third round of equity financing since its founding in1992 as a spin-off from Centocor Inc.
James Murphy, vice president of finance and administration forApollon, said the privately held Malvern, Pa., company generated$9.7 million, giving it a total of $25 million raised over the last fouryears.
Among the investors in the current financing round was Malvernneighbor Centocor, which maintained its 33 percent interest inApollon. The private placement was managed by Genesis MerchantGroup, of San Francisco.
In October 1995 Apollon signed a potential $100 millioncollaboration for development of DNA-based vaccines for AIDS,herpes simplex virus (HSV) and human papilloma virus with Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, of Radnor, Pa., a division of American HomeProducts Corp., of Madison, N.J.
With the third round of equity financing and revenues from theWyeth-Ayerst alliance, Apollon has enough money to coveroperations "well into 1998," Murphy said.
Apollon's genetically engineered vaccines, called Genevax, are basedon viral genes to generate an immune system response rather than theproteins those genes encode. The goal is to stimulate both antibodiesand killer T cells against the targeted virus.
Apollon has two Phase I/II studies in AIDS under way. In June 1995a trial with asymptomatic HIV-infected patients was started andrepresented the first clinical study of a vaccine based on viral genes.The treatment is designed to slow or halt progression of the disease.
The second trial, begun in March 1996, is evaluating the vaccine inhealthy volunteers to determine if it can be administered safely toHIV-negative people and to find out if it stimulates an immuneresponse against the virus.
A Phase I/II trial of a Genevax therapeutic vaccine against T celllymphoma also is ongoing. Apollon expects to begin a clinical studyof a Genevax-HSV vaccine later this year.
In its collaboration with Wyeth-Ayerst, Apollon will receive researchand development funding and milestone payments. Apollon also willreceive revenue for manufacturing its marketed products for Wyeth-Ayerst. n
-- Charles Craig
(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.