Thyreos, Inc. closes $1 million financing and announces receipt of a $1.6 million NIH NIAID Fast Track STTR grant award to develop a new vaccine to protect against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2, the virus that causes human genital herpes.
Vaccine startup Thyreos Inc. has closed a $1 million series seed b round of financing and has been awarded a $1.6 million NIH NIAID STTR Fast-Track grant for preclinical development and study of an HSV-2 non-neuroinvasive live-attenuated vaccine based on Thyreos R2® technology. The vaccine will be tested for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy in preparation for clinical trials.
HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infectious (STI) agent responsible for painful symptoms in approximately 15% of the population: millions of people suffer from recurrent symptomatic infections. The virus can also transmit to neonates during birth, which can result in long-term neurologic deficits and be life-threatening.
Thyreos R2® technology represents a unique approach to HSV-2 vaccine design. By selectively removing their hallmark neuroinvasive potential, Thyreos R2® herpesvirus vaccines are designed to provide uncompromised protection of the nervous system from virus invasion and the subsequent establishment of life-long latent infections.
The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program at NIH NIAID awards competitive federal research grants to small businesses working with university partners to commercialize technology derived from research at U.S. universities. The NIH Fast-Track recognition is given to scientifically meritorious projects that have a high potential for commercialization and adds support to progress research and development to preclinical testing.
The Thyreos team includes Co-founders Gary Pickard, Professor of Neuroscience in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Gregory Smith, Professor of Microbiology-Immunology at Northwestern University, and Ekaterina Heldwein, Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology at Tufts University and CEO Eric Zeece.
“We are pleased to receive the Fast-Track STTR award from the NIH NIAD. This award will expedite development and preclinical study of the R2® HSV-2 vaccine. HSV-2 causes suffering for millions of people throughout the world and is of concern for its potential role in long-term neurologic disorders. The goal of producing a prophylactic HSV-2 vaccine dates back to the 1940s. While our understanding of the virus has advanced tremendously over the intervening decades, these complex infectious agents have frustrated all attempts at vaccine development. The Thyreos R2® HSV-2 vaccine represents a new technological design approach that for the first time maximizes vaccine potency while maintaining safety. We are excited to move this breakthrough technology one step closer to protecting people.”, said Thyreos CEO, Eric Zeece.
Thyreos is a biotech company that has established a platform to produce effective prophylactic human health and animal vaccines against a variety of diseases caused by neuroinvasive herpesviruses. Thyreos was co-founded by researchers at Tufts University, Northwestern University, and the University of Nebraska. The company is located in Lincoln, Nebraska and Chicago, Illinois.