Icosavax was founded on computationally designed self-assembling virus-like particle (VLP) technology developed at the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) at University of Washington School of Medicine.
VLPs are known to induce superior immunological responses compared to traditional soluble antigens, eliciting protective immune responses while reducing the need for strong adjuvants, which in some instances have been associated with side effects. VLPs contain no genetic material, so they are non-infectious and can provide a safer alternative to live-attenuated or inactivated vaccines.
“It’s really a protein folding and manufacturing problem,” Icosavax CEO Adam Simpson told FierceBiotech. “The complex antigens displayed on the VLP need to be properly folded to provide a protective immune response, without interfering with the assembly or manufacturability of the macromolecular structure itself.”
“Icosavax’s vaccine technology solves the problem of constructing and manufacturing VLPs displaying complex antigens by utilizing computationally designed proteins that separate the folding of individual protein subunits from the assembly of the final macromolecular structure. The individual proteins are expressed and purified using traditional recombinant technologies, and then self-assemble into VLPs when mixed together,” said Icosavax co-founder Neil King, Ph.D.
The proceeds of the financing will be used to advance the company’s first vaccine candidate, IVX-121, for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) for older adults through Phase 1b clinical studies. RSV causes a respiratory infection that, while mild in most people, can prove fatal in infants and older adults.
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