SEATTLE–(GEEKWIRE)–Curevo has raised $60 million to develop a new vaccine for shingles, an often-painful condition caused by reactivation of the chickenpox virus.

The new funding will enable the Seattle-based startup to test its vaccine against a market-commanding shot made by GlaxoSmithKline. Curevo’s upcoming phase 2b trial will compare safety of the two vaccines in more than 650 people, and assess immune responses to the shots.

If the trial is successful, phase 3 trials await, along with a potential large future payout. GSK’s shingles vaccine, approved in 2017, pulled in $2.3 billion in sales last year for the pharma giant, according to FierceBiotech.

Curevo aims to best GSK’s Shingrix shot by reducing side effects. Shingrix yields side effects that interfere with regular activities in one of six recipients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Curevo found only a 1.3% rate of such activity-limiting side effects in early, phase 1 studies, according to a statement announcing the new funding. The vaccine also appeared to result in a robust immune response, detected via antibodies and other immune-related substances in the body.

The Curevo shot is built from a non-living component of the virus and a proprietary adjuvant, a substance added to a shot to boost vaccine effectiveness.

Curevo was established in 2018 as a partnership between South Korean company GC Pharma; the Mogam Institute for Biomedical Research, a global non-profit research organization based in Seoul; and Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI). GC Pharma has the capability of manufacturing vaccines at scale, and IDRI is known for its adjuvant technology.

IDRI founder Steve Reed is Curevo’s executive advisor and director; he also serves as CEO of HDT Bio, a Seattle company developing a globally-accessible COVID-19 vaccine. Curevo’s CEO George Simeon previously worked in South Korea for SK Telecom’s healthcare division and as an executive with Johnson & Johnson.

Curevo may also face competition from COVID-19 shot makers Pfizer and BioNTech; the companies recently announced a partnership to also develop a shingles vaccine. Curevo is also developing a chickenpox vaccine that is entering phase 1 clinical studies in South Africa.

The Series A round was led by RA Capital Management. Other investors include Adjuvant Capital, Janus Henderson Investors, EN Investment, and founding investor GC Pharma.

Original article published here.

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