KU Leuven: KU Leuven spin-off AstriVax raises 30 million euros for the construction of a vaccine platform


With a total amount of €30 million, AstriVax has secured the largest seed capital in the history of KU Leuven spin-offs. The company uses technology that was developed at the Rega Institute of the KU Leuven. With this, AstriVax aims to develop new vaccines that are easy to produce, have fewer cold chain requirements and offer broad, long-term protection against a variety of viruses and other pathogens.

The financing round was led by V-Bio Ventures and Fund+. The other investors are Flanders Future TechFund, Thuja Capital, Ackermans & van Haaren, Mérieux Equity Partners (via OMX Europe Venture Fund), BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity and the Gemma Frisius Fund of KU Leuven.

AstriVax will use the seed money to advance its first thermostable yellow fever vaccine into clinical development and to continue work on two vaccine candidates: a vaccine to prevent rabies and one to treat chronic hepatitis B.

The company will also build on its highly innovative, first-in-class plug-and-play vaccine platform based on the pioneering work of co-founders Professor Johan Neyts and Dr Kai Dallmeier of KU Leuven’s Rega Institute. AstriVax’s versatile technology can be used to develop a wide range of vaccines to prevent and treat infectious diseases. AstriVax wants to focus on the major challenges in vaccinology, such as duration of protection and ease of production. Since the vaccines will no longer require a strict cold chain, they will reach patients more easily from the factory, even in tropical and subtropical regions.

dr. Hanne Callewaert will head the company as CEO. She has over 15 years of experience in the life sciences sector, including several leadership positions in companies such as GSK Vaccines and Oxurion. Callewaert: “I consider it a privilege to be able to collaborate with the world-renowned team of Professor Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier for the further development of the vaccine platform. The technology has enormous potential to meet medical needs. Thanks to the financing and support of a strong consortium of investors, AstriVax’s technology can take the step towards clinical validation. I see this as a strong reinforcement of confidence in the potential of the technology, the team and the collaboration.”

Professor Johan Neyts (KU Leuven), co-founder: “After more than ten years of hard work and dedication, our academic team has developed and refined a new, powerful and versatile vaccine approach. Kai Dallmeier and I are extremely excited that AstriVax will take our revolutionary vaccine technology into the clinical development phase. This will ensure that we can protect and treat many more people on all continents against all kinds of horrible infectious diseases. We are also pleased to be working with CEO Hanne Callewaert. We do all this with the support of an enthusiastic and experienced consortium of investors and with advice from the competent authorities.”

Shelley Margetson, managing partner at V-Bio Ventures: “We are impressed by the quality of the scientific work carried out in recent years by Johan Neyts and Kai Dallmeier at KU Leuven. Converting academic expertise into valuable products for society through the creation of spin-out companies is at the heart of V-Bio Ventures’ activities.”
dr. Caroline Goddeeris, director at Fund+: “We greatly appreciate the expertise of the founders and the team of AstriVax. We are convinced that the thermostable plug-and-play vaccine platform has great potential to prevent and treat a wide variety of diseases thanks to the remarkable immune response it elicits. It is an honor for Fund+ to be part of the AstriVax story and improve the lives of people and patients worldwide.”
AstriVax’s head office will be located in the BioHub in Haasrode (near Leuven).

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