February 20, 2001
Rockefeller Foundation's DBLV to Fund Three-Year Collaboration
REDWOOD CITY, California, and NEW YORK, 20 February 2001—Maxygen Inc. (Nasdaq: MAXY), the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) and DBLV LLC, an entity established and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, today announced the formation of a three-year collaboration to develop novel HIV vaccines using Maxygen's proprietary MolecularBreeding(TM) directed molecular evolution technologies. The parties believe that Maxygen's MolecularBreeding(TM) technologies can potentially overcome key obstacles that have hindered the development of AIDS vaccines, such as insufficient immune response and the inability to protect against infection by different strains of HIV.
Under the agreement, DBLV will provide full research and development funding to Maxygen for at least three years to expand its ongoing program in HIV vaccine development. Maxygen will retain all rights to commercialize the HIV vaccine candidates in all developed countries of the world, as well as in certain markets in the developing world. In recognition of the great need for a vaccine against AIDS in the poorest countries of the world where infection rates are soaring, Maxygen has granted IAVI a royalty-free license to develop and distribute HIV vaccines to those who cannot afford them in developing countries.
According to the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, 36.1 million people were living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2000. The pandemic has reversed decades of social and economic progress in sub-Saharan Africa and is spreading rapidly in India, China and the former Soviet Union. Worldwide, AIDS has become the leading cause of death among infectious diseases. Last year alone, AIDS killed 500,000 children and 2.5 million adults, and despite existing prevention efforts an additional 600,000 children and 4.7 million adults became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The innovative public-private collaboration among Maxygen, IAVI and DBLV will strengthen Maxygen's existing HIV program aimed at developing novel HIV vaccines for the commercial markets in the developed world, while also making a successful vaccine available to those who need it most in the world's poorest countries. The collaboration has the potential in the future to expand its current focus on HIV vaccine discovery to include development of HIV vaccines leveraging IAVI's know-how and access to an extensive clinical infrastructure.
"Our partnership with IAVI will expand our existing HIV program aimed at developing novel HIV vaccines," said Russell Howard, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Maxygen. "We have already shown in several examples that our proprietary MolecularBreeding(TM) directed molecular evolution technologies can be used to generate infectious disease antigens that elicit broader, stronger immune responses than wild type antigens. There is a tremendous opportunity to develop novel vaccines of commercial value that address the high unmet medical need of HIV infection and AIDS worldwide. We believe that application of these technologies to HIV vaccine development may overcome key limitations that have so far hindered the successful development of a safe, effective HIV vaccine. Moreover, we believe it is very important that any successful vaccine generated through this collaboration reach everyone that needs it, including people in the developing world that are most affected and least able to pay. This partnership ensures that if we are successful, this goal will be achieved."
"A vaccine is the best hope for ending the AIDS epidemic," said Seth Berkley, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. "Collaborations with private industry working on the cutting-edge of biotechnology will be a critical factor in achieving our goal of developing and distributing AIDS vaccines worldwide, particularly in countries most affected by the AIDS epidemic. IAVI is already collaborating with a number of biotech companies, and we are pleased to have Maxygen as an industry partner."
Maxygen Inc., headquartered in Redwood City, California, is focused on creating novel products using its integrated proprietary technologies for human therapeutics and industrial applications. Maxygen's technologies bring together advances in molecular biology and protein modification to create novel biotechnology products. Maxygen currently has a pipeline of over 40 potential products, including eight in development. Maxygen has strategic collaborations with leading companies including Lundbeck, Pfizer, Chevron, Novozymes, DSM, Hercules, Rio Tinto, DuPont and Syngenta as well as US government funding from DARPA and NIST-ATP.
The International AIDS Vaccine Initiative is an international non-profit scientific organization founded in 1996 whose mission is to ensure the development of safe, effective, accessible, preventive HIV vaccines for use throughout the world. IAVI's work focuses on four areas: creating global demand through advocacy and education, accelerating scientific progress, encouraging industrial involvement in AIDS vaccine development and assuring global access. IAVI is a collaborating center of UNAIDS. Its major donors include the governments of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States and Ireland, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sloan Foundation and the Starr Foundation.