SEATTLE, June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Immune Design, a new generation vaccine company built on emerging understanding of the human immune system, today announced the closing of an $18 million Series A financing. The current round was co-led by Alta Partners, The Column Group and Versant Ventures. The Column Group initially incubated the Company.
"We are pleased and fortunate to have such an outstanding syndicate of investors joining a world class team of experienced founders and scientific leaders at Immune Design," said Steven Reed, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer. "While vaccines and immunotherapeutics represent a growing market that is receiving increased interest from pharmaceutical companies, true innovation in the field has been stagnant. We are working to leverage breakthrough technologies toward developing new and better approaches to this area."
Most current vaccines and immunization protocols rely on generic stimulation of the immune system -- a limited and inefficient method. Immune Design is addressing these limitations with improved adjuvants and novel technologies targeting and controlling dendritic cells, which have recently been shown to orchestrate how effectively the immune system mounts an effective response. This approach could create an entirely new generation of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for infectious diseases and extend the coverage of current vaccines. The company expects to be in the clinic within 12 months with vaccines using its best in class molecular adjuvants, which will soon be followed by novel vaccines using the dendritic cell directed platform.
The Company's founders include Dr. David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate, President Emeritus of Cal Tech and one of the world's most prominent immunologists; Dr. Steven Reed, founder of the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), founder and former Chief Scientific Officer of Corixa and an authority in the areas of infectious diseases and molecular adjuvants; and Dr. Larry Corey, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center and a world expert in HIV and Herpes virology as well as a leading vaccinologist. Additional founding scientists, Dr. Lili Yang of Cal Tech and Dr. Pin Wang of University of Southern California bring their new vaccine technologies to Immune Design.
"By targeting dendritic cells, we hope to both improve the response to current antigens and tailor the cellular and hormonal response to address new disease areas," said Dr. Baltimore. "In addition, our novel adjuvant program is generating highly immunogenic adjuvants with improved reactogenic properties which will broaden protection across patient populations and minimize the amount of antigen required." Dr. Ed Penhoet, Partner at Alta Partners and former CEO of Chiron Corporation will serve as Board Chairman. Other Board members include Dr. Richard Klausner, Partner in The Column Group, former Director of the National Cancer Institute and former Executive Director of Global Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Baltimore and Dr. Brian Atwood, Partner at Versant Ventures.
"Vaccines generated over $16 billion dollars in sales in 2007. Influenza vaccines alone are predicted to reach over $4 billion in sales by 2012," said Dr. Penhoet. "At Immune Design, we see a unique opportunity to develop a platform technology that could be used to efficiently generate multiple vaccines to address a wide range of infectious diseases."
Dr. Larry Corey will chair an illustrious Scientific Advisory Board that includes Dr. Ralph Steinman, Henry G. Kunkel Professor and Senior Physician at Rockefeller University and the discoverer of dendritic cells; Dr. Inder Verma, professor in the Laboratory of Genetics and American Cancer Society Professor of Molecular Biology at the Salk Institute and a leading virologist; Dr. Rafi Ahmed, Emory Vaccine Center Director, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology in the Emory University School of Medicine and a leading immunologist; Dr. Martin Friede, a vaccine specialist with the World Heath Organization and a recognized expert on molecular adjuvants and Dr. Bruce Beutler, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the Scripps Research Institute, whose research has focused on infectious disease and immunity.
Immune Design is headquartered in Seattle, Washington.
About Immune Design
Immune Design is a new generation vaccine company built on emerging understanding of the human immune system. Immune Design has identified improved adjuvants and novel technologies targeting and controlling dendritic cells, which have recently been shown to orchestrate how effectively the immune system mounts an effective response. Unlike most vaccines and immunization protocols that rely on more limited and less efficient generic stimulation of the immune system, Immune Design's approach could create an entirely new generation of prophylactic and therapeutic vaccines for infectious diseases and extend the coverage of current vaccines. http://www.immunedesign.com
About Alta Partners
Additional information regarding Alta Partners can be found at http://www.altapartners.com
About The Column Group
Additional information regarding TCG can be found at http://www.thecolumngroup.net
About Versant Ventures
Additional information regarding Versant Ventures can be found at http://www.versantventures.com
SOURCE Immune Design