Aelix Therapeutics gets €11.5M for therapeutic HIV vaccine

Aelix Therapeutics, a drug development company created from the HIVACAT project and specialized in the discovery and development of immunotherapies against HIV infection, has completed a funding round of €11.5 M. Ysios Capital, a Spanish investment fund, led the round. The fundraising was also supported by a syndicate of new investors including Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc. (“JJDC”), and Caixa Capital Risc, the venture capital division of Spain’s leading financial group, ‘la Caixa’. Doctors Josep M. Gatell, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Hospital Clínic and IDIBAPS, Bonaventura Clotet and Christian Brander, from the Institute for AIDS Research (IrsiCaixa), and Jordi Naval, are co-founders of the company and in charge of this project.

The proceeds will be used to complete the team and support the development of the HTI immunogen as a therapeutic vaccine against HIV infection up to the completion of a Phase 2 proof-of-concept efficacy trial in HIV-infected individuals. HTI has been developed under the HIVACAT program, the Catalan project for the development of effective vaccines against HIV and composed of the AIDS and Infectious Diseases Department at Hospital Clínic and the IrsiCaixa. The project also works in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company ESTEVE, and with the support of the ‘la Caixa’ Foundation, the autonomous Catalan government’s Department of Economy and Knowledge, ICREA, plus the Clinic Foundation at Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic.

The HTI immunogen has the potential to become the first immunotherapy to produce a ‘functional cure’ for HIV infection. It works by eliciting an effective T-cell immune response to the virus in vaccinated individuals.  Clinical trials are expected to start by third quarter of 2016.

About HIV

Currently, more than 36.9 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with 2 million new infections in 2014. It is estimated that in Spain there are 150,000 people infected, 33,600 of them in Catalonia. In recent years, it has been detected a stabilization in Western Europe in the number of new cases, due in part to prevent loosening because of the existence of antiretroviral drugs, allowing the disease to become chronic. Treatments, however, have a long-term toxicity and it is essential the research on new therapies that would allow the discontinuation of this type of medication.