SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., May 10, 2017 -- Meissa Vaccines, a start-up biotechnology company developing vaccines to prevent serious respiratory infections, today announced that it has been awarded a Phase 1 SBIR grant by the National Institutes of Health entitled, "Development of polyvalent inactivated rhinovirus vaccine." The grant will allow Meissa to advance its second product candidate towards an IND, by funding the generation of multiple rhinovirus serotypes and the development of innovative analytical tests to identify and quantify each serotype in the multivalent vaccine. Rhinoviruses are the predominant cause of the common cold.
Dr. Roderick Tang, Meissa's Chief Scientific Officer and Principal Investigator on the grant said, "We are delighted with this award, especially because NIH was only able to fund one in eight Phase 1 SBIR applications in fiscal 2016. Rhinovirus has attractive characteristics as a target for vaccine development, including the ability to test for efficacy early in clinical development with a human challenge model."
"Most people think of the common cold as an inevitable nuisance of the winter months," added Dr. Martin Moore, Meissa's Chief Executive Officer. "However, for people with respiratory co-morbidities such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the common cold causes serious disease exacerbation. It is estimated that 1.2 million hospitalizations a year in the US alone are attributable to asthma or COPD exacerbations, at a cost of $14 billion, and that rhinovirus infection is the single biggest viral cause of these exacerbations."
Meissa's rhinovirus vaccine candidate is based on research carried out in Dr. Moore's laboratory at Emory University.
Meissa Vaccines is a start-up pharmaceutical development company focused on the advancement of vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV, the largest unmet respiratory medical need in pediatrics) and rhinovirus (the leading cause of infectious disease worldwide). The technology is sourced from Dr. Martin Moore's laboratory at Emory University. Dr. Moore, together with Dr. Roderick Tang, a leading developer of viral vaccines, are co-founders of Meissa. Dr. Tang and Dr. Moore are supported by a team with extensive experience in conducting vaccine clinical trials.
Meissa's vaccine programs have the potential to benefit multiple age groups directly and indirectly. Successful vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus and rhinovirus would have widespread benefits for society and families. These include reducing the burden of acute lower respiratory tract disease, reducing colds, reducing acute asthma exacerbations caused by these viruses, and alleviating missed school and work. Meissa Vaccines is a resident company of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS (JLABS) in South San Francisco (JLABS @ SSF).