ImevaX GmbH receives multi-million euro funding from BMBF
TUM start-up develops vaccine candidates for Helicobacter pylori
ImevaX GmbH transferred its research and development activities to its own lab and offices in Munich on September 1, 2014. The company has been supported by TUM ForTe – Office for Research and Innovation – since 2011. The ImevaX team is headed by Prof. Markus Gerhard, TUM professor and founder of ImevaX, and develops targeted vaccines for treating and preventing chronic and nosocomial infectious diseases. They work closely with TUM’s Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, which is headed by Prof. Dirk Busch. “Start-ups like ImevaX are a prime example of how scientists can build a successful company on the basis of scientific excellence. This spin-off process underscores the entrepreneurial approach at the heart of TUM”, explains TUM President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann.
The company’s leading candidate, IMX101, is a vaccine that combats Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that colonizes the stomach and can cause stomach ulcers and gastric carcinomas in humans. Markus Gerhard and his team have discovered that H. pylori’s ability to colonize the stomach and cause infections is dependent on a bacterial factor that the pathogen secrets in the gastric environment, which suppresses the host’s immune response. The new vaccine candidate IMX101 should help to block the mechanism in the pathogen that compromises the immune system, enabling the body’s defenses to build up an effective immune response. Other dangerous pathogens with similar immune evasion mechanisms are targeted under ImevaX’s screening program.
Chronic infections with H. pylori are the most common type of bacterial infections in the world. Over 50 percent of the world’s population is infected with H. pylori and more than 500,000 people die each year from stomach cancer. Conventional treatment of H. pylori infections is currently based on a range of different antibiotics. However, these come with serious side-effects and also contribute to the increase in antimicrobial resistance. To date, there is no vaccine for this type of infection. ImevaX initially plans to develop the vaccine in its own labs and is open to collaborative alliances moving forward.