A new vaccine development firm, Affinivax, was recently initiated thanks to funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and may receive future funding based on its performance. Affinivax plans on continuing to develop its Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) and other vaccine development projects with the initial four million dollar investment.
The company will focus on developing vaccines targeting Streptococcus pneumonia, the bacterium that predominantly causes pneumonia. They also have exclusive licensing rights for the MAPS technology that is ready to run proof of concept clinical trials.
Richard Malley, a founder of Affinivax, and his team at Boston Children’s hospital developed MAPS and believe that they will be able to develop the broadest protective immune responses using this technology. MAPS allows for the incorporation of multiple antigens in a single vaccine, which will provide broader protection against several pathogens.
The new pharmaceutical company plans on challenging one of the world’s prominent problems in the developing world. Pneumonia is a respiratory infection that is responsible for the most childhood deaths in the world. “The disease kills 1.1 million children under the age of five, more than AIDs, malaria and tuberculosis combined”, according to WHO.
Affinivax has garnered support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation because of their common mission of developing new technologies to combat deadly diseases. Trevor Mundel, president of Global Heath at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stated, "It is unacceptable that pneumonia remains the leading cause of death among children under five".