GPN Vaccines is a South Australian company developing a vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which causes pneumonia, bacteremia and meningitis.
Up to two million deaths worldwide are attributed to S. pneumoniae each year, and it kills more children than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Chief Operating Officer Dr Lauren Giorgio said the best vaccine currently available is designed to protect against only 15 of 100 known serotypes, and so GPN Vaccines is developing a serotype-independent whole-cell vaccine called Gamma-PN to provide adults and children broad-spectrum protection against S. pneumoniae.
“Extensive preclinical, formulation and manufacturing optimisation work has been conducted on Gamma-PN to date, and the first-in-human trial is expected to begin in 2022,” Dr Giorgio said.
“A $1 million Seed-Start* grant from the Government of South Australia in 2020 allowed the company to hire three new full-time Scientists (two of which are PhD-qualified) and a Quality Assurance Manager.
“In addition, the company has been able to strengthen its intellectual property position by filing several new patents and has had its original patent granted in the United States and Japan - the two largest markets for GPN Vaccines' product.”
A further $3 million of private investment was raised following award of the Seed-Start funding.
“A key contributor to this additional investment was Forepont Capital based in New York,” Dr Giorgio said.
“Dr Ismail Kola subsequently joined the GPN Vaccines board of directors representing Forepont Capital, bringing many years of leadership experience in drug commercialisation, from the research laboratory through clinical development and onto the market.”
* The Seed-Start Program provides early-stage high growth potential startups with grants of between $50,000 - $500,000. The Seed-Start Program is an initiative of the Government’s Research and Innovation Fund (RIF) (formerly Research, Commercialisation and Startup Fund).