PaxVax snags $22M to get fast-tracked cholera pill through Phase III

PaxVax CEO Ken Kelley

Menlo Park, CA-based PaxVax has picked up $22 million in venture cash to get an oral cholera vaccine into the FDA's hands, working its way through late-stage trials for the single-dose treatment.

With the fresh funding, PaxVax can plow through a 3,000-patient Phase III study of PXVX0200, a rapid-onset oral vaccine that proved effective and well-tolerated in earlier trials, the company said. There are no FDA-approved cholera vaccines for travelers headed to high-risk countries, PaxVax said, and that unmet need led the FDA to put PXVX0200 in its fast-track program, speeding up the trek to approval.

And, if all goes according to plan, PXVX0200's FDA sign-off may well jump-start PaxVax's pipeline, which includes a Phase II oral vaccine for H5N1 influenza and early-stage treatments for anthrax, HIV and dengue. An approval for PXVX0200 could entitle PaxVax to what the FDA terms a priority review voucher, designed to reward developers of treatments for neglected tropical diseases by fast-tracking one of their other candidates.

Ignition Growth led PaxVax's latest raise, joined by impact investor Blue Haven Initiative. The round brings PaxVax's 7-year haul to $68 million, and CEO Ken Kelley said the company is in it for the long haul in vaccine development.

"We are grateful for the continued financial support and confidence in our lead vaccine candidate as well as in our business model of doing well by doing good," Kelley said in a statement. "Traditional financial investors such as Ignition and new social impact investors such as Blue Haven can both accomplish their financial and social goals by investing in PaxVax and advancing this novel cholera vaccine."

All of PaxVax's in-development treatments are based on its proprietary adenoviral-based technology platform, allowing it to quickly discover and develop oral vaccines that can target any viral or bacterial antigen, the company said. Alongside its fundraising efforts, PaxVax has worked hand in hand with federal agencies like NIH and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, using millions in grant and contract dollars to advance its programs.

- read the announcement