May 17, 2016

Tackling Zika: Q&A With PaxVax CEO Nima Farzan

Source: BioTechNow
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
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As mosquito season kicks into high gear and the threat of Zika transmission in the United States grows, the global health community is grappling with how to address not only the potential for large-scale outbreaks in the near-term but the possibility that Zika will linger as an on-going threat, similar to West Nile virus, for years to come.

More than 15 companies and public-health organizations have publically stated that they are working on Zika vaccine candidates with some shooting to advance into Phase 1 studies by early next year. We recently connected with Nima Farzan, CEO of California-based PaxVax to talk about the company’s Zika vaccine candidate and some of the challenges of addressing fast-moving and unpredictable threats.

Founded in 2007, privately held PaxVax is emerging as a global player in the specialty vaccine industry with a current focus on the travelers market. The company closed out 2015 with $105 million in new funding and is awaiting word from the FDA on its cholera vaccine, Vaxchora, which was granted a priority review action date of June 15th this year. If approved, Vaxchora will be the only vaccine against cholera available in the United States.

PaxVax currently markets the typhoid vaccine Vivotif which it acquired, along with a Swiss manufacturing site, from Johnson & Johnson’s Crucell business in 2014. In addition to Zika, typhoid and cholera, the company has vaccines at various stages of research and clinical development for anthrax, HIV, adenovirus and hepatitis A.