Genocea Biosciences, Inc., a clinical-stage company advancing innovative T cell vaccines for infectious diseases, has raised $30 million in a Series C financing round. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and CVF, LLC, an affiliate of Henry Crown and Company, are participating alongside all of Genocea's existing investors, including Polaris Venture Partners, Lux Capital, SR One, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation, Skyline Ventures, Cycad Group, Auriga Partners, MP Healthcare Ventures and Morningside. With the close of this financing round, Genocea has raised a total of $76 million in equity financing to date.
"We have made strong progress in our effort to create a new class of vaccines capable of combating serious infectious diseases that current vaccine discovery technologies cannot address," said Chip Clark, chief executive officer at Genocea. "Completion of this financing round is a powerful vote of confidence from the financial community that will enable us to move aggressively to create new vaccines that will improve the health of patients around the world."
Funds raised will support the continued development of Genocea's two lead programs: GEN-003, a clinical-stage therapeutic vaccine candidate designed to reduce the frequency and severity of clinical outbreaks associated with moderate-to-severe Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2), and GEN-004, a preclinical vaccine candidate to prevent infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. In addition Genocea will expand its malaria program in collaboration with The Foundation, using Genocea's proprietary ATLAS™ platform to profile the immune response of volunteers participating in Foundation-sponsored malaria vaccine trials, to identify antigens for potential inclusion in a protein subunit vaccine.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made this equity investment as part of an initiative that commits $1 billion to program-related investments to deepen the impact of The Foundation's work. "We are excited about the potential of the partnership with Genocea to further our global health priorities," said Trevor Mundel, president of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "T cell innovation of this kind presents an intriguing opportunity to advance our global health mission through development of a new class of vaccines."
Genocea is currently enrolling a Phase 1/2a study of GEN-003 and expects to report preliminary data in the second half of 2013. The company anticipates beginning clinical trials in late 2013 for GEN-004, a next-generation vaccine to address Pneumococcal infections, which currently drives the largest global vaccine market, by value. GEN-004 is designed to cover all serotypes of Pneumococcus, rather than the select strains addressed by existing vaccines, and to affect nasopharyngeal colonization caused by Pneumococcus via a TH17 mediated mechanism of action which complements the B cell-mediated effect of existing vaccines.