Biotech companies have not historically been thought of as “sexy,” but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, that might be changing.
As evidence of that, Boston-based Affinivax today announced it has closed on a $120 million Series B led by Viking Global Investors. Bain Capital Life Sciences and Ziff Capital Partners also participated in the financing.
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The round marks Affinivax’s first funding since it raised $2.5 million in initial seed and Series A money from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in February 2016, according to Crunchbase. It has just over 70 employees.
Affinivax currently has a lead pneumococcal vaccine currently in clinical trials. It plans to use part of its fresh capital to continue advancing its Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS) pneumococcal vaccine program, which it is conducting in partnership with Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma. The company also plans to use some of the money toward pushing other vaccine candidates targeting hospital-associated infections (HAIs) into clinical studies.
Affinivax’s lead vaccine targeting Streptococcus pneumoniae includes 24 pneumococcal serotypes, which it claims is “more than any other vaccine on the market or in clinical testing today.”
Dr. Andrew Hack, a managing director of Bain Capital Life Sciences, said the startup is addressing a critical public health need “with a novel and creative approach.”
And according to Dr. Steven Altschuler, managing director of Ziff Capital Partners, with the ongoing increase in the global health threat posed by a broad range of infectious diseases (such as COVID-19), “new prevention strategies to combat disease are more important than ever.”
We here at Crunchbase News predict that we’ll be seeing more money poured into biotech startups as investors put a greater emphasis on potentially life-saving technology.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias