Genocea applies tech to therapeutic vaccines

Xconomy profiles Genocea, a 2008 Fierce 15 company that has made waves with its high-speed vaccine discovery platform. Genocea's technology mimics the human immune system in vivo in order to swiftly identify the antigens most likely to elicit an immune response. The goal is to cut the average time for finding an antigen for a vaccine to weeks or months, instead of years.

The company has selected its lead program. Instead of pursuing a drug to prevent disease, the company has elected to develop a therapeutic vaccine for herpes simplex virus 2, a disease carried by about 45 million Americans. The antiviral market for genital herpes already tops $2 billion annually. "It's a large market, we think we can do better with a vaccine approach, and there's a high unmet need," Genocea CEO Staph Bakali tells Xconomy. The company hopes to begin Phase I trials of the vaccine in 2010.

In addition to its lead therapeutic vaccine, Genocea is also applying its technology to preventive shots for chlamydia, as well as pneumococcal infections in children. The company's high-speed approach to vaccines hasn't gone unnoticed by the industry. "We have a lot of interest. We've been in discussions with a lot of partners for various programs," says Bakali.

- take a look at Xconomy's write-up