PROVIDENCE, R.I., June 11, 2018 — EpiVax announces their move to a new headquarters at 188 Valley Street, in the “Rising Sun” complex, a former wool mill in the Olneyville section of Providence, Rhode Island. The privately held bioinformatics company is also celebrating its 20th anniversary. The mission of EpiVax is to “improve human health everywhere” through the application of advanced immuno-informatics tools for faster, better vaccines and biologics design. The current team of 30 bioinformaticians, algorithm experts, and immunologists at EpiVax are recognized internationally for leadership in these two fields. Due to their willingness to challenge vaccine and immunology dogma, they have adopted the motto “Science without Fear”.
EpiVax was founded in May 1998 by Annie De Groot, MD (then Brown University Associate Professor and now Research Professor and Director of the Institute for Immunology and Informatics at the University of Rhode Island), Bill Martin (formerly Parexel), and a third partner. Some highlights of the past 20 years include:
- 1999: $75K Slater Phase I award for development of ‘epitope-driven vaccines’;
- 2000: $2.7M grant for HIV vaccine development to EpiVax founder Annie De Groot MD; EpiVax spins out GAIA Vaccine Foundation and vows to make the HIV vaccine Not-for-Profit;
- 2001: Selection for Gates-Foundation-funded TB Vaccine Development program by Sequella Vaccine Foundation;
- 2003: $150K Slater Phase II Award (Principal & Interest repaid in full in 2008);
- 2003: First major BioPharma contract for Immunogenicity Risk Assessment using integrated immunoinformatics toolkit;
- 2006: First ISPRI website launched (Immunogenicity Risk Assessment for Biologics using algorithms; secure access website accessible on the ‘cloud’)
- 2008: Discovery of Tregitope; First in Class Immunomodulatory Peptides
- 2009: EpiVax CEO/CSO Annie De Groot (in role as URI professor) wins $12M NIH U19 Award, founds the Institute for Immunology and Informatics at University of Rhode Island;
- 2010: Tregitope wins AAPS ‘Innovation award’ at AAPS;
- 2012: EpiVax wins $2.3M NIH award for Type 1 Diabetes Research;
- 2013: Discovery of Humanlike epitopes in pathogens; JanusMatrix algorithm;
- 2016: EpiVax Oncology, a precision medicine company for personalized cancer vaccines, spins out of EpiVax.
- 2017: $5.8M Partnership Grant from NIH to re-engineer flu vaccine;
- 2018: EpiVax wins two SBIR Phase I grants and signs ISPRI contracts with 9/12 top Pharma companies, while collaborating on vaccine design contracts supported by USAID, Pasteur Institute, multiple vaccine companies, and the Department of Defense (with multiple academic collaborators).
The EpiVax vaccine concept is based on stringing together epitopes, or short fragments derived from pathogen proteins, that train T cells, the body’s primary immune defense, to respond to the threat of infection. Key design elements include: selection of cross-conserved epitopes from variable strains using “Conservatrix”, removal of regulatory T cell (Treg) epitopes using “JanusMatrix”, and identification of Tregitopes (natural Treg epitopes) in pathogens and human proteins using immunoinformatics tools. The Immunogenicity Screening and Protein Reengineering Interface (ISPRI) toolkit uses similar tools for the risk assessment of the immunogenic potential of biologics, and, in addition, features the identification of Treg epitopes (Tregitopes) using the JanusMatrix tool.
De Groot and Martin reiterated one of their company’s core values in making this announcement of their 20th anniversary. “We believe that improving access to effective vaccines and biologics has inherent human value. Making better medicines and biologics (using our tools) will save research dollars and save lives. Just ‘making products’ without such tools wastes precious resources.” De Groot added, “We’re especially thrilled to be participating in the development of personalized vaccines in our new venture, EpiVax Oncology. Every cancer patient deserves their own personalized cancer vaccine” (see Press Release for EpiVax Oncology, June 2018).
The EpiVax 20th Anniversary celebration will be held on the 15th of June 2018. Attendance is by invitation only. Federal Representatives, local Rhode Island Legislators, including the Mayor of Providence and city council members, and members of the Press have been invited to be present at the opening of EpiVax Headquarters. An Open House for members of the Olneyville Community will be held on June 16th from 2 to 5 PM. For more information on attending either of these events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 401 272 2123.
EpiVax, Inc. is a privately-held biotechnology company based in Providence, RI, focused on the development of vaccines and immunotherapies mainly for infectious diseases and autoimmunity. Led by Annie S. De Groot, MD, an internationally recognized vaccine design thought leader, and William Martin, chief architect of the EpiMatrix Epitope Discovery Platform, EpiVax has enjoyed significant success in the fields of immunology and bioinformatics over the past 20 years. Nine out of the twelve top global biopharmaceutical companies use EpiVax epitope prediction tools to design novel biologics and vaccines. More information on EpiVax can be found on https://www.epivax.com
Dr. Anne S. De Groot
CEO/CSO, EpiVax, Inc.