Actelion, a biopharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, has created a start-up, together with the Max Planck Society, in synthetic carbohydrate vaccines. The new company, Vaxxilon, aims to discover, develop, and commercialize synthetic carbohydrate vaccines.
Vaxxilon has licensed exclusive rights to multiple preclinical vaccine candidates and additional technologies from Max-Planck Innovation, the technology transfer office of the Max Planck Society. Actelion is the principal investor and majority shareholder, having made a funding commitment of up to $33.2 million, to be released in tranches over a period of three to four years.
Jean-Paul Clozel, M.D. and CEO of Actelion, said, "Actelion has had success in advancing the science of the endothelium, and translating it into therapeutic options for the PAH community. Our long-term success depends on building additional specialty areas."
The first preclinical candidates were discovered and synthesized by Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin. An additional key component of the technology was jointly developed by Prof. Seeberger and Prof. Gennaro de Libero of the University Hospital of Basel. Vaxxilon plans to advance its first vaccine candidate into man within three years.
Clozel said, "Synthetic carbohydrate vaccines represent an exciting opportunity and have great potential. By creating Vaxxilon with the Max Planck Society we are building a platform from which synthetic carbohydrate vaccines could become a commercial reality within the next decade. This investment represents an innovative way to find synergies between the academic and industrial worlds."
Vaxxilon will be led by Tom Monroe, who has served in multiple and varied roles of growing responsibility at Actelion over the past 15 years. Four chemists from Prof. Seeberger's group will form the initial scientific team at Vaxxilon, and recruitment will begin quickly for additional experienced personnel. Vaxxilon, a Swiss limited liability company, will be headquartered in Reinach, Switzerland, and a research facility will be established in Berlin.
The company will be overseen by a board of directors with representatives of Actelion, Prof. Seeberger and an independent director, as well as an observer from the Max Planck Society. David Stout, recently elected to the Actelion board of directors and former president of Pharmaceutical Operations at GlaxoSmithKline, will serve as chairman.