Affinivax said today it secured an additional $2.5 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation tied to achieving milestones toward development of a pneumococcal vaccine using the company’s Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS) platform.

The $2.5 million is a follow-up to the foundation’s initial $4 million investment that launched Affinivax in October 2014. The company said the follow-up funding will be used to advance Affinivax’s lead MAPS vaccine, which targets Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), towards clinical testing. 

“Based on the robust data from preclinical trials, demonstrating protection against both invasive disease and colonization, we will now advance our final vaccine candidate towards IND submission and proof of concept in clinical testing,” Affinivax CEO Steven B. Brugger said in a statement. “This additional investment from the Gates Foundation validates the excellent progress we have made since we founded the company.”

That progress, according to Affinivax, includes securing not only the Gates Foundation funding, but additional grants. The company received a grant of undisclosed amount from the global nonprofit health organization PATH in February 2015, followed in October by another grant of undisclosed amount from Nosocomial Vaccine Corp., established by ClearPath Development Co. with support from Astellas Pharma.

The MAPS platform, initially developed at Boston Children’s Hospital, is designed to overcome the limitations of current conjugate vaccine technology, in which protection is limited to only 13 pneumococcal serotypes (or strains).

In addition to a simpler and more cost-efficient manufacturing process, Affinivax said, the MAPS vaccine offers the potential to protect against all pneumococcal serotypes.

Based in Cambridge, MA, Affinivax is focused on developing vaccines for children and adults in the developed and developing worlds.

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