Vaccine innovation expert joins BOD as Meissa advances in clinical trials two intranasal live attenuated vaccine candidates (COVID-19 and RSV), which were developed on the company’s AttenuBlock platform
REDWOOD CITY, Calif., April 13, 2021 – Meissa Vaccines (“Meissa”), a biotechnology company developing vaccines to prevent serious viral respiratory infections, announced today the appointment of Dr. Michael Watson, to the Company’s Board of Directors. Dr. Watson has more than 20 years of experience in global vaccine innovation and research and development at leading biotech and pharma companies as well as in national and global vaccination policy leadership and implementation. Currently, he is the cofounder and CEO of MEVOX, CEO of VaxEquity, and Board member of the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND). Prior to that he was President of the infectious diseases and vaccines venture of the mRNA vaccine company Moderna.
“Mike has extensive experience in developing, implementing, and funding, successful global vaccine programs,” said Marty Moore, Ph.D., CEO and founder of Meissa. “The Board and I look forward to Mike’s expertise and guidance as Meissa advances in clinical trials our global vaccine candidates for RSV and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), which were developed on our leading AttenuBlock live attenuated vaccine platform.”
Meissa’s live attenuated vaccine platform incorporates 10 years of research and development employing rational and precise codon deoptimization and other genetic strategies to produce hundreds of targeted mutations into the RSV genome, providing exquisite control over viral protein expression. Meissa has applied the company’s proprietary AttenuBlockTM platform to produce a RSV live attenuated vaccine candidate, MV-012-968, which is in a Phase 2 clinical study, and a live attenuated RSV-vectored SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) candidate, MV-014-212, which is in a Phase 1 study. For MV-014-212, the RSV surface proteins were replaced with the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein, thus creating a genetically stable, live attenuated vector vaccine candidate for COVID-19. Both of these vaccine candidates offer significant potential advantages for global deployment, including needle-free intranasal administration, a single adjuvant-free dose to induce mucosal and systemic immunity, as well as a straightforward, economical, and scalable manufacturing process.
“Meissa’s vaccine platform is unique as it is sprayed into the nose rather than being injected, so it generates immunity in the nasal passages and upper respiratory system, which are the major route of infection for RSV and SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Watson. “For these reasons Meissa’s vaccine platform offers the potential to finally prevent RSV, which has evaded injectable vaccine technologies for more than 70 years, and to provide a highly effective, easily administered, transmission-blocking, globally accessible vaccine against SARS-CoV-2.”
Intranasal vaccines generate both mucosal (IgA) antibodies in the nasal cavity and antibodies that circulate in the blood (serum). In contrast, injected vaccines typically induce circulating but not mucosal antibodies. While circulating antibodies are important for preventing serious lung disease, mucosal antibodies are important for blocking infection and transmission of respiratory viruses.
At Moderna, Dr. Watson led the vaccines and infectious diseases strategy and team, which advanced novel vaccine and antibody technologies against viral and bacterial targets enabling the company to develop the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. For these programs, he raised more than $150 million in investor and non-dilutive financing. His global vaccine research and development expertise includes advancing eight vaccine candidates into clinical trials. Of those, three advanced to Phase 2/3 clinical trials and three to licensure, recommendation, and ultimately launch. These include Gardasil®, a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; Pediacel®, a fully liquid formulation of vaccine to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliovirus, and serious diseases like meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae B; and Dengvaxia®. Prior to Moderna, Dr. Watson has held the following positions: Global Head of Vaccination Policy and Advocacy at Sanofi Pasteur; Head of R&D for Acambis; and Head of Clinical and Epidemiology for Sanofi Pasteur MSD in France. He also served as Chair of the Vaccines Committee and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Group of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA).
About Meissa Vaccines
Meissa Vaccines was founded with a mission to protect people everywhere from life threatening respiratory viruses and a commitment to develop innovative technologies capable of delivering effective vaccines at a global scale. Meissa is advancing live attenuated vaccine candidates against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), and human metapneumovirus (hMPV). These vaccine candidates have been developed using the company’s proprietary AttenuBlockTM synthetic biology platform, which includes codon deoptimization and technologies exclusively licensed from Emory University and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Meissa’s vaccine candidates are formulated to be delivered as a single, intranasal, adjuvant-free, needle-free dose and are designed to prevent infection and disease and generate a strong, durable immune response. Meissa is headquartered in Redwood City, Calif.
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