Virion Therapeutics, LLC, a Philadelphia, PA-based startup advancing innovative, immune-based therapies for the treatment of chronic viral-associated cancers and viral infections, raised $5m in Series A funding.
– Robin Hood Ventures,
– Mid-Atlantic Bio Angels Group (MABA),
– Keiretsu Capital Fund III,
– Life Science Angels,
– Keiretsu Forum,
– Alliance of Angels, and
– Crimson Peak.
The company intends to use the fundfs for an FDA Investigational New Drug filing for its lead HPV vaccine candidate and pre-clinical work on a vaccine for chronic HBV infection.
Spun out of The Wistar Institute, Virion will work to advance innovative, immune-based therapies for the treatment of chronic viral-associated cancers and viral infections utilizing the first genetically encoded checkpoint inhibitor that can be given via vaccination.
Co-founded by Hildegund C.J. Ertl, M.D., professor in the Vaccine & Immunotherapy Center at Wistar, along with life science entrepreneurs Andrew D. Luber, Pharm.D., and Bernard Rudnick, MBA, the company has built technology on a two-prong strategy that combines the use of replication-incompetent chimpanzee adenoviral vectors (ChiVax) with concomitant expression of glycoprotein D (gD), a novel checkpoint inhibitor that blocks suppression of T-cell production.
ChiVax vaccines overcome a key limitation of human adenovirus-based vaccines, whose efficacy can be limited by pre-existing natural immunity against human adenoviruses. Incorporating gD as a BTLA checkpoint blockade into multiple vaccine platforms has consistently shown enhanced T-cell responses. When combined in a single vaccine, ChiVax-gD induces potent, durable and wide-ranging T-cell responses that are more resistant to immune exhaustion and has shown enhanced activity in multiple preclinical cancer and infectious diseases studies.