SapVax Achieves Technical Milestone, Raises Additional Funding, and Expands Advisory Board

CLEVELAND AND AUCKLAND — February 2, 2018 — SapVax, LLC, a privately-held biotechnology startup developing a suite of cancer vaccines based on novel self-adjuvanting peptide technology, announced today that it achieved a significant proof-of-principle milestone, expanded its Scientific Advisory Board, and closed a new round of equity financing to continue to advance its unique platform towards the clinic.

The Company recently in-licensed an additional series of adjuvant constructs from Auckland UniServices, and demonstrated that vaccines in its NY-ESO-1-targeted program can activate human T cells in an in vitro priming assay.  Priming studies were performed at the University of Auckland in collaboration with SapVax Founders Dr. Rod Dunbar, MBChB, PhD, and Dr. Margaret Brimble, CNZM, PhD, who serve as key advisors to the program.  SapVax will use the new funds to support studies in animal tumor models and clinical candidate selection.

“Demonstration of antigen specific priming of naïve human T cells was a critical proof-of-principle milestone,” said Baiju R. Shah, the CEO of BioMotiv and the Chairman of the SapVax board.  “The result led to the support of a group of investors who believe that SapVax is well positioned to advance its lead vaccine candidates to the clinic.”

In addition, SapVax has expanded its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), originally formed in June 2017, to seven members: Howard Kaufman, MD, Lisa Butterfield, PhD, Claudine Bruck, PhD, Martine George, MD, Lauren Black, PhD, Afshin Dowlati, MD, and Neil Berinstein, MD.  Chaired by Howard Kaufman, MD, the Chief Medical Officer at Replimune Group Inc., and Immediate Past President of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, the SAB advises the SapVax management team on the preclinical and clinical development strategy supporting its family of self-adjuvanting vaccines.

“SapVax has made excellent progress demonstrating in vitro proof of principle with its lead vaccine constructs in human T cells and the SAB is excited about the potential of SapVax’s self-adjuvanting peptide vaccine platform to demonstrate immune activation and anti-tumoral activity in in vivo preclinical models and future clinical studies,” said Dr. Kaufman. “The company’s self-adjuvanting peptide vaccines show great promise for assisting in activating the immune system to fight cancer in humans.”

BioMotiv, LLC, the for-profit drug development accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, led the investment round with participation from Auckland Uniservices Limited, the University of Auckland’s technology transfer office, and Innovator Capital Limited, a London-based specialty investment bank.  The company has also received support from the Harrington Discovery Institute.

About BioMotiv

BioMotiv is the mission-driven accelerator associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, a $340 million initiative for advancing medicine centered at University Hospitals in Cleveland. The focus is to accelerate breakthrough discoveries from research institutions into therapeutics for patients through an innovative model that efficiently aligns capital and collaborations. The company leverages an experienced team and advisory board to select, fund, and actively manage and advance a portfolio of drug development programs.

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About The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development

The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development (The Harrington Project) is a $340 million national initiative built to bridge the translational valley of death. It includes the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland and BioMotiv, a for-profit, mission-aligned drug development company that accelerates early discoveries into medicines for benefit of society. 

For more information about The Harrington Project and the Harrington Discovery Institute, visit:

About Auckland UniServices

Auckland UniServices Limited is the commercial research, knowledge transfer and custom education company of the University of Auckland - dedicated to connecting the University’s capabilities to business and investors, Government and the community.  It is the manager of the University of Auckland’s seed fund the University of Auckland Inventors’ Fund, a $20 million fund dedicated to investing in technology and start-ups developed by the staff and students of the University.

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About University of Auckland

Many University of Auckland academics are also inventors and entrepreneurs. According to The Reuters Top 75 list of Asia’s most innovative universities in 2016, the University ranks as the most innovative university in Australasia. It has also been recognized by the MIT Skoltech Initiative as one of the five emerging world-leading universities in entrepreneurship.

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About Innovator Capital

Innovator Capital ("ICL") is a London based specialist investment bank advising emerging, sustainable technology, ICT and life science companies. Established in 2003, ICL provides strategic and capital markets advice, M&A, licensing and intellectual property services.

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