Astellas Pharma and Affinivax have agreed to an exclusive global license deal to develop and commercialize the latter’s lead preclinical Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccine. The vaccine has been developed using Affinivax’s Multiple Antigen Presenting System (MAPS) vaccine platform and has undergone preclinical proof-of-concept testing.

Under terms of the deal, Astellas will fund and head the ongoing development program and will retain worldwide rights to commercialize the MAPS vaccine for pneumococcal disease. Cambridge, MA-based Affinivax will receive $10 million upfront from Astellas, plus development and commercial milestones and tiered sales royalties.

“I am pleased to enter into this agreement and partner with Affinivax to develop a pneumococcal vaccine using their novel MAPS technology.” said Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., svp and chief strategy officer at Astellas. “Astellas expects to provide a new option to prevent pneumococcal disease with high unmet medical needs by developing an innovative MAPS vaccine as part of our commitment to serve patients interests worldwide.”

Affinivax claims that its MAPS platform allows the simplified design and development of vaccines containing both polysaccharide and protein antigens. The firm says the MAPS approach generates vaccines that induce broader and stronger immune responses than conventional conjugate vaccines and can also be used to target pathogens for which vaccines haven’t yet been developed.

In addition to its lead S. pneumoniae vaccine program, Affinivax is also developing a MAPS vaccine against bacterial nosocomial infections in collaboration with partner ClearPath Development, and also with support from Astellas Pharma.

Affinivax won a $2.5 million follow-on grant form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in February 2016 to progress the S. pneumoniae MAPS vaccine toward clinical development. Affinivax was launched in 2014 with the aid of an initial, $4 million investment by the Foundation.


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