PnuVax said this week that it landed a $29.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and test its pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.
The company is slated to receive milestone payments over the next three years as its vaccine moves through development and into proof-of-concept clinical trials.
PnuVax’s product is designed to protect against variations of the pneumonia-causing bacterium. The company hopes to manufacture its vaccine in Canada and distribute it to the developing world through its partners, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Unicef.
“Children are still dying of preventable diseases such as pneumonia worldwide, largely due to high dosage costs and supply shortages that can thwart delivery to developing countries,” PnuVax co-founder Jonas Gerson said in prepared remarks.
“Creating a healthy marketplace for vaccines is crucial to our efforts to protect every child through immunization,” Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, added. “That’s why this grant to a potential new and innovative supplier is so important. Gavi has now helped 58 countries to introduce pneumococcal vaccine since our support started in 2009 and coverage is steadily increasing. This vaccine is at the forefront of our fight against pneumonia.”
“PnuVax is delighted to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and evaluate this needed vaccine during our upcoming early stage clinical trials,” PnuVax CEO Donald Gerson said. “Once licensed, this vaccine is expected to increase supply of low-cost pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on a global scale.”
The company also anticipates that it will offer its vaccine to Canadians at a reduced cost.
“Pneumonia remains a significant problem in many of Canada’s northern communities and one of PnuVax’s specific objectives, in addition to serving the developing world, is to help reduce the incidence of childhood pneumonia in Canada,” PnuVax co-founder Allison Turner added.