KEELE, England & RIYADH, Saudi Arabia & STOCKHOLM, Sweden & SEOUL, South Korea--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Prokarium, the UK-based synthetic biology company that has developed Vaxonella, an oral, thermostable vaccine delivery platform, today announced the completion of a $10 million investment round. The new funds will enable the clinical development of groundbreaking vaccines against Chlamydia, C.difficile and enteric fever (typhoid and paratyphoid), as well as expansion of the team for R&D in immuno-oncology. The round was led by Riyadh Valley Company, followed by Prokarium’s original investor Flerie Invest as well as Korea Investment Partners.
Riyadh Valley Company (RVC) is the venture capital arm of King Saud University and operates globally out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Flerie Invest is a venture capital investor operating from Stockholm, Sweden, with investments in Europe, US and the Middle East. Korea Investment Partners (KIP) is South Korea’s largest venture capital firm operating globally from its Seoul headquarters, with other offices in Shanghai, Beijing, and Silicon Valley.
Prokarium’s oral, thermostable Vaxonella platform has many technical advantages over current injectable vaccines, including the triggering of mucosal and cellular immunity, and allows the tackling of hitherto difficult-to-prevent diseases. Furthermore, Vaxonella’s revolutionary 12-week thermostability at 40⁰C is a game changer for transportation of vaccines to remote locations and improves access to underserved markets such as homes for the elderly. Prokarium’s development pipeline also includes a vaccine against plague, being taken into a phase 1 clinical trial under a SBRI contract funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care and managed by Innovate UK, paving the way for new biodefence and epidemic preparedness applications.
Prokarium’s CEO, Dr Ted Fjallman, commented: “The vaccine industry and the synthetic biology community in the UK are thriving and our team has worked hard to play a central role in both, winning several prestigious grants and government contracts. The new investment by RVC, Flerie and KIP is a clear endorsement of Prokarium’s leadership in developing novel, targeted medicines to prevent serious illnesses. We look forward to generating the clinical data for our current vaccines and working with our investors to find new opportunities to partner our technologies globally.”
RVC’s CEO, Dr Khalid Al-Saleh, added: “The global vaccine market is worth over $35bn with a CAGR of 8% or more, yet many countries still do not make full use of the healthcare savings that preventative medicine like vaccines can bring. Prokarium’s team have developed a unique technology that can solve many issues with vaccine efficacy and delivery. We believe their expertise in synthetic biology, coupled with the need for easily accessible childhood vaccines in emerging markets and the growing adult vaccine market globally, will allow Prokarium to expand into many new areas in the coming years.”
Flerie Invest’s Executive Director, Thomas Eldered, commented: “The recent outbreak of pneumonic plague in Madagascar and the fact that there are over 130 million new cases of Chlamydia every year show us that both old and new diseases can emerge as global health threats at any time. Flerie is very glad to be investing alongside RVC and KIP in the further development of Prokarium into a clinical stage company to better address these unmet medical needs in the future.”
Sangwoo Lee, Executive Director of KIP, further added: “We are excited about Prokarium’s technology platform and the wide-ranging applications for it. We look forward to working with RVC and Flerie to help the Prokarium team find collaborators in Asia and other parts of the world, so that Prokarium’s innovations can benefit people globally.”
Prokarium’s growth will be accelerated by expanding its team including a new Head of immuno-oncology research and a VP of Business Development as well as by partnering with global biopharmaceutical companies to maximise the potential of its products and unique vector technology platform. The company aims to drive the development of thermostable, easily accessible vaccines as well as immunotherapies in a broad range of disease areas and markets in the coming years.
Notes to Editors:
Prokarium is a privately owned, UK-based biotechnology company with a vision to create targeted oral vaccines and immunotherapies. The company’s proprietary synthetic biology platform Vaxonella® enables thermostable microbes to be taken orally, to then produce vaccines from inside the body’s own immune cells, triggering all arms of immunity with minimal side effects and at lower costs than injectable vaccines.
Prokarium has a dual business model: Development of in-house oral vaccines and out-licensing of its Vaxonella platform. Currently the focus is on preventing Chlamydia, Clostridium difficile, and enteric fever (typhoid and paratyphoid) as well as developing a vaccine against plague under a UK Department of Health and Social Care SBRI contract.
About Riyadh Valley Company
Riyadh Valley Company (RVC) is the venture capital arm of King Saud University (KSU) and makes both venture & strategic, as well as local and global types of investments in products, services and technology solutions in the areas of sustainable resources, health & life sciences, as well as ICT.
Within the healthcare segment, RVC invests in the development of novel therapeutics and vaccines, as well as other solutions to address the growing threats of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and obesity, diagnostics & monitoring, and medical devices. Recent investments include Avidity Biosciences, San Diego, USA, GSV Labs in Boston, USA, and GLM, Kyoto, Japan (exited to O Luxe in 2017). RVC is also uniquely able to leverage KSU’s capabilities, including those of KSU’s Medical City with its 1,300 full-time physicians and affiliated clinical researchers.
About Flerie Invest
Flerie Invest is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and is an early-stage VC investor focusing on building strong IP and competent teams, leveraging its connection with Recipharm and Cobra Biologics to provide expert advice and services for process development and manufacture. Investments include Empros Pharma, Stockholm, Sweden and Cormorant Pharmaceuticals (exited to Bristol Myers Squibb in 2016).
About Korea Investment Partners
Korea Investment Partners (KIP) is South Korea’s largest VC firm performing venture debt, mezzanine, middle market, emerging growth, buyouts, start up, early stage, mid venture, late venture, and growth capital investments. KIP oversees 27 VC funds with over $1.9 billion of assets under management. Recent investments include Celleron Therapeutics, Oxford, UK, and Eloxx Pharmaceuticals, Israel and USA.
The firm typically invests in healthcare and biotech, ICT, software, energy, and engineering solutions, including industries related to the fourth industrial revolution, including intelligent software, digital services, and artificial intelligence. The firm considers investments in China, South Korea, and other countries such as the USA, UK, and Germany. It typically invests between USD 2.80 and 9.34 million in equity per transaction. KIP was established in 1986 and is based in Seoul, South Korea with additional offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Silicon Valley.