Mar 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Vaccine developer SutroVax raises $110 million in Series D funding

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

SutroVax, a Foster City, Calif.-based developer of a pneumonia vaccine, raised $110 million in Series D funding co-led by RA Capital Management and Janus Henderson Investors.

Why it matters: Its lead candidate is a more-encompassing alternative to Pfizer's Prevnar 13, a $6 billion per-year vaccine that reportedly is seeing a prescription bump from those worried about the coronavirus. Prevnar won't prevent someone from being infected, but some believe that it could help ward off subsequent pneumonia.

  • Return backers include TPG Growth, Abingworth, Longitude Capital, Frazier Health Care Partners, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Medixci, CTI Life Sciences, Roche Venture Fund, and Foresite Capital.

The bottom line: "Sutro had figured out a way to design and manufacture proteins without using living cells, as biologists have for decades. They used to build antibody-drug conjugates and recently brought multiple into the clinic. They realized, though, that it could also be important for building vaccines, a field whose potential had long been limited by how precisely you could design a protein." Jason Mast, Endpoints News

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Novavax starts human trials for coronavirus vaccine

Novavax's Nita Patel with a computer model showing the protein structure of a potential coronavirus vaccine at the lab in Gaithersburg, Maryland, in March. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Novavax began clinical trials of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus in Australia on Tuesday, per a statement from the Maryland-based biotechnology firm.

The state of play: 131 volunteers in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Brisbane will undergo injections as part of the study, the company's research chief Gregory Glenn said during a briefing, per Australian Associated Press.

The EU makes its move on a green coronavirus recovery

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The European Commission this morning proposed a $825 billion package of economic responses to the coronavirus pandemic that includes financing for renewable energy, electric vehicle charging and other emissions-friendly projects.

Why it matters: The energy components of the "Next Generation EU" plan, part of a wider multi-year budget proposal, appear to be the most substantial attempt yet to stitch low-carbon investments into economic recovery plans.

Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next

Zipline's drone drops medical supplies via parachute. Image courtesy of Zipline.

Zipline, a California drone company, has made its U.S. debut by delivering medical supplies to hospitals in North Carolina under a pilot program honed in Africa.

Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.