- The EIB is providing a €50 million loan to Danish biotech MinervaX ApS.
- The EIB loan will finance research and development into a vaccine that could save the lives of mothers and newborns from Group B Streptococcus infection.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced today that it has provided a €50 million loan facility to MinervaX ApS, a privately held Danish biotechnology company developing a novel, protein-based vaccine against Group B Streptococcus (GBS).
The project financing will enable MinervaX to advance the late-stage development of its GBS vaccine candidate, which was recently awarded PRIME status by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) given its potential to prevent life-threatening infections and harmful pregnancy outcomes in newborn babies caused by GBS transmission during delivery. MinervaX has begun preparations to expand its clinical development team and evaluate its phase 2 clinical data for efficacy and safety ahead of public presentation.
Life science for saving lives
Group B Streptococcus is responsible for nearly half of all life-threatening infections in newborns. Globally, 15% to 25% of women are infected with GBS. The mothers then run the risk of transmitting the bacteria to their child in the womb before or during birth, or during the first few months of life. GBS infections may lead to late-term abortions, premature delivery or stillbirth. In newborn children it may result in sepsis, pneumonia or meningitis, all of which carry a significant risk of severe morbidity, long-term disability or death. Worldwide, GBS is estimated to be responsible for some 320 000 cases of neonatal invasive disease, 60 000 stillbirths, 3.5 million preterm deliveries, and 10 000 babies suffering from long-term neurological damage annually.
Currently, the only available preventative approach against Group B Streptococcus is through delivered prophylactic antibiotics. This is a costly and logistically challenging approach. It is also unable to cover all infections, including the most severe cases in the United States and Europe, and is unavailable in low-income regions.
European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel said: “Group B Streptococcus threatens the lives of the most vulnerable people, mothers and newborns. The Commission is supporting the Danish biotechnology company MinervaX in its research and development of a new vaccine to provide a solution for an unmet medical need. We hope that this investment delivers fast and successful results for all.”
EIB Vice-President Christian Thomsen, who is responsible for Denmark, said: “We are delighted to be supporting MinervaX with its medical research. The work of MinervaX is truly about life science — about life and death — to avoid infectious diseases for mothers and newborns. MinervaX fits into the investment strategy of the EIB, as one of the biggest financiers of innovation in Europe, to support highly innovative biotech companies developing breakthrough life science products with the potential to transform and improve people’s lives. At the same time, we are increasing innovation capabilities and competitiveness and creating jobs in Europe through this financing.”
Chief Executive Officer of MinervaX Per Fischer said: “We are delighted to announce this financing, which gives us the firepower to accelerate the development of our vaccine. There is a pressing need for a vaccine for GBS, which can be life-threatening for unborn babies with no approved or universally useful vaccine available to date. I would like to thank the EIB and the MinervaX team who have worked diligently to get the vaccine ready for the final stage of clinical development.”
About the European Investment Bank
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the bank of the European Union, owned by the 27 EU Member States. It is active in some 160 countries and is the world’s largest multilateral lender for climate action projects. The Bank provides long-term financing for economically sustainable investments to contribute to the European Union’s political objectives. Ensuring a just transition for all is one of the EIB Group’s four overarching objectives in its Climate Bank Roadmap 2021-2025. The EIB’s ambition is to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments in the decade to 2030 and align all its new operations with the goals and principles of the Paris Agreement.
About InnovFin IDFF
The InnovFin Infectious Diseases Finance Facility (IDFF), under Horizon 2020, is a joint European Commission and EIB initiative that provides financial products ranging from standard debt to equity-type financing for amounts typically between €7.5 million and €75 million to innovative players active in developing or manufacturing innovative vaccines, medicines, medical and diagnostic devices or novel research to combat infectious diseases. Project costs may include laboratory-validated technologies, which require clinical testing for further development, in addition to complementary pre-clinical research. The product is available directly through the European Investment Bank and will continue to support innovative infectious diseases projects until the end of 2022.
MinervaX is a Danish biotechnology company established in 2010 to develop a prophylactic vaccine against Group B Streptococcus (GBS), based on research from Lund University. MinervaX is developing a GBS vaccine for maternal immunisation that is likely to have superior characteristics to other GBS vaccine candidates in development. For further information: www.minervax.com