Funding to Support Therapeutic HSV-2 Vaccine Clinical Development and Advancement of Robust Vaccine Pipeline; Appoints Industry Veteran Seth Hetherington, M.D., as Chief Medical Officer
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Genocea Biosciences Inc., a vaccine discovery and development company pioneering a new class of T cell-based vaccines, today announced that it has closed a $35 million Series B round of venture financing, with new investors Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC), Skyline Ventures and MP Healthcare Venture Management, Inc. (MPH) joining existing investors Polaris Venture Partners, Lux Capital Management, SR One, Cycad Group, Auriga Partners and Morningside Ventures. Stephen J. Hoffman, M.D., Ph.D., managing director at Skyline Ventures, joins the Genocea board in connection with the financing. In addition, Genocea also announced the appointment of industry veteran Seth Hetherington, M.D., to chief medical officer.
Proceeds will support Genocea as it enters clinical development for its lead program, a therapeutic vaccine for herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infections. Genocea will also use funds to advance its deep research pipeline, including prophylactic vaccine programs addressing Chlamydia trachomatis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, HSV-2 and Plasmodium falciparum (malaria).
"We believe this substantial funding round validates the promise of our proprietary discovery platform and underscores the significant unmet medical need for new vaccines in our target diseases," said Chip Clark, chief business officer of Genocea. "We are delighted to appoint Dr. Hetherington, who brings to Genocea invaluable vaccines, infectious diseases and drug development expertise. We look forward to applying his talents to further the development of our novel vaccines, which have the potential to benefit millions of patients worldwide."
As chief medical officer, Dr. Hetherington will be responsible for all clinical, medical and regulatory activities. He brings to Genocea more than 25 years of experience in clinical drug development and academic medicine. Prior to joining Genocea, Dr. Hetherington was senior vice president, clinical and regulatory affairs at Icagen, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of novel small molecule drugs that modulate ion channel targets. Earlier in his career, Dr. Hetherington was vice president, clinical development and chief medical officer at Inhibitex and served in positions of increasing responsibility in clinical drug development at GlaxoSmithKline and Glaxo Wellcome, where he made significant contributions to several clinical development programs, including the currently marketed pharmaceuticals Ziagen®, Trizivir® and Agenerase®. Dr. Hetherington currently serves as the industry representative to the Vaccines and Related Blood Products Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Genocea Biosciences is a vaccine discovery and development company targeting major infectious diseases with high unmet medical needs, in which T cell response helps confer protection. The company's transformational discovery platform mines the natural immune response across diverse human populations in a way that radically reduces the risk, cost and time associated with antigen discovery. Genocea is currently developing vaccines for herpes simplex-2 (therapeutic and prophylactic), a sexually transmitted disease affecting roughly 15 percent of the U.S. population; Chlamydia trachomatis, a sexually transmitted disease agent causing an estimated 90 million cases worldwide; Streptococcus pneumoniae, the leading killer of children under the age of 5 worldwide; and Plasmodium falciparum (malaria), of which there are more than 100 million cases globally. Visit www.genocea.com for more information.