San Francisco, CA – February 2021
EnGen Bio is an early stage biotechnology company pioneering a new approach to preventing and treating influenza, with the goal of an effective, easy-to-manufacture, shelf-stable universal flu vaccine that should confer long-term immunity to all Type A influenza strains—including all flu pandemics.
Seasonal flu causes 50,000–250,000 deaths worldwide annually, causing the World Health Organization to declare the development of a universal flu vaccine as an urgent need in its Global Influenza Strategy (2019–2030) report. The unique nature and genetic makeup of the influenza virus poses a challenge to researchers focused on influenza treatment and vaccination. To be effective, influenza vaccines must be “matched” to the current, circulating viral strain and administered each year, and even then they have limited effectiveness due to “mismatching.” Another reason for a lack of protection is that the virus strain at the beginning of the flu season may be different from that at the end of the flu season. Some deadly strains (eg., H7N9) can take years before a safe recombinant vaccine can be produced. These factors all contribute to the need for universal protection.
To address these issues, EnGen Bio is developing universal vaccines for Type A flu prevention in both the $6B human and $0.5B veterinary markets, as well as an antibody flu treatment with a potential $2B market. If successful, these efforts could eradicate flu pandemics and dramatically limit the global burden of disease from flu.
Speaking on the urgent need for vaccines with increased efficacy, EnGen Bio CEO Dr. Mark Alfenito stated, “Seasonal flu kills more than 25,000 people in the US, and between a quarter and half a million people worldwide, every year. Experts, including the CDC, agree that we are extremely vulnerable to a catastrophic global flu pandemic on a scale that could far exceed both COVID-19 and the Spanish flu of 1918.”
The Type A Matrix 1 protein, which makes up the shell of the influenza virus, was previously thought not to be accessible to the immune system. EnGen Bio has discovered that there is actually an exposed region, or epitope, of the Matrix protein on the surface of the virus that hasn’t mutated significantly since the 1918 Spanish flu, and likely cannot mutate. EnGen Bio has determined how to train the immune system on this epitope to make only protective, neutralizing antibodies. They have shown that a therapeutic antibody to this epitope binds and neutralizes all strains of the flu virus tested to date. When this epitope was used as a test vaccine, it showed protection from all strains tested in animals.
EnGen Bio’s discovery and novel approach should stimulate a truly universal and durable immune response to all Type A influenza strains. The discovery allows for the creation of a human therapeutic antibody and for vaccines (human and veterinary) based on a novel, well-conserved region of the flu virus. Building upon its discovery, EnGen Bio is currently optimizing its approach for a recombinantly manufactured, lyophilized, room temperature stable, subunit vaccine that could be manufactured well in advance of need, and is also not anticipated to contain socially controversial ingredients.
Two additional factors make EnGen Bio an especially attractive investment: 1) Entities such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have demonstrated their commitment to this area via significant grants to companies and institutions; they offer significant resources in the form of non-dilutive grant funding. 2) There is the potential for early liquidity via pre-clinical out-licensing to pharmaceutical partners.
EnGen Bio announced their intention to launch a registered crowdfunding campaign in partnership with WeFunder, just as industry trends show unprecedented growth in the biotech and vaccine space. According to the Global Opportunity Analysis & Industry Forecast, the worldwide market for human influenza vaccines is expected to reach $11.4B by 2025. Peak sales of vaccines and therapies could reach an estimated $2.6B in the U.S. alone, offering an exciting opportunity for early investors who wish to support life-saving efforts within the vaccine space.
Fundraising will be open to interested investors beginning March 15th, 2021. To review detailed information on EnGen Bio’s equity and crowdfunding terms, opportunities and risks, please visit their WeFunder page at the link below.
WeFunder Campaign: https://wefunder.com/engenbiollc