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GSK’s acquisition of Affinivax will give the company access to their portfolio of next-generation pneumococcal vaccines.
GSK announced on May 31, 2022 that it would acquire Affinivax, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, for $2.1 billion on May 31, 2022, with an additional $1.2 billion in payments conditional on certain development milestones being met. The acquisition grants GSK access to Affinivax’s novel class of vaccines, the most advanced of which are next-generation pneumococcal vaccines.
Pneumococcal disease includes pneumonia, meningitis, bloodstream infections, and milder diseases such as sinusitis and otitis media. There is a significant unmet medical need for these vaccines because while there are many different pneumococcal serotypes, the number of serotypes in current vaccines is limited due to the degree of immunological interference observed when using existing conjugation technologies.
Affinivax developed the multiple antigen presenting system (MAPS), a novel technology designed to support higher valency than conventional conjugation technologies through precise, high-affinity binding of disease-relevant polysaccharides to disease-relevant protein antigens in a single vaccine. MAPS was designed with the goal of enabling broader coverage against prevalent pneumococcal serotypes and potentially creating higher immunogenicity than current vaccines. According to a company press release, immunization with the resulting polysaccharide-protein complexes induces a broad and potentially protective B-cell response to the polysaccharides and a separate B-cell and T-cell immune response to the proteins.
Affinivax’s most advanced vaccine candidate (AFX3772) includes 24 pneumococcal polysaccharides and two conserved pneumococcal proteins, comparing favorably to currently approved vaccines that contain up to 20 serotypes. FDA granted AFX3772 a breakthrough therapy designation in July 2021 as a preventative treatment for S. pneumoniae invasive disease and pneumonia in adults 50 and older. Phase III trials are expected to start shortly, while Phase I/II clinical trials to assess the use of the vaccine in pediatrics are planned to begin later this year. In addition to AFX3722, a 30+ valent pneumococcal candidate vaccine is also in development.
“The proposed acquisition further strengthens our vaccines R&D pipeline, provides access to a new, potentially disruptive technology, and broadens GSK’s existing scientific footprint in the Boston area,” said Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president, R&D, GSK, in the press release. “We look forward to working with the many talented people at Affinivax to combine our industry-leading development, manufacturing, and commercialization capabilities to make this exciting new technology available to those in need.”
“Affinivax grew out of our founders’ scientific and personal vision to drive vaccine innovation to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives, in both developed and developing countries,” said Steven Brugger, CEO, Affinivax, in the press release. “Over the past eight years, we have taken that vision from the initial development of our MAPS vaccine platform at Boston Children’s Hospital to a pipeline of novel vaccines with our lead vaccine candidate in late-stage clinical studies. We are proud that GSK has recognized our team’s accomplishments and are confident that GSK is an ideal new home for our MAPS platform and the team behind its success.”