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BIO Investor Forum Company Snapshot: Immune Design

October 18, 2011
In the third installment of the Investor Forum Company Snapshots, hear from Immune Design Corp. The CEO of the company, Dr. Carlos Paya, will be presenting next week at the 10th Annual BIO Investor Forum on Tuesday afternoon.

Company Snapshot

What are the short-term and long-term priorities for your company?

Short term: focus on validating in patients a product from each of our two novel technologies.  We will be conducting testing of :

1) An investigational  therapeutic vaccine for potential use in recurrent Herpes Simplex Virus-2 (HSV2) infection composed of novel rationally selected HSV2 antigens combined with a selective TLR-4 agonist (GLA)

2) An investigational therapeutic vaccine for potential use in cancer, that is  composed of a dendritic cell tropic integration deficient lentivirus.

How does your company go about differentiating yourselves from the competition?

The two technologies that led to the company formation are being developed to potentially --individually and collectively-- lead to therapeutic vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases.  This is being pursued by selectively targeting the dendritic cell; key in seeking to trigger an antigen-dependent T cell response.  TLR4, the target of GLA, is highly expressed in these cells and the lentivirus vector is encapsulated to selectively infect dendritic cells via the DC-SIGN receptor.  Proprietary TLR-4 ligands, when appropriately formulated, trigger a strong Th1 immune response de novo or shift it from an existing Th2 response.  The integration deficient lentivirus triggers a strong and antigen specific CD8 T cell response.  In short, our technologies are designed to seek to achieve a new level of control of the immune system in active immunotherapy for cancer or chronic infections.

What is the most challenging part of raising money and seeking collaborations?

For novel technologies, high value partnerships are usually cemented upon clinical validation.  Weathering the transition period from exciting science and pre-clinical testing to solid clinical validation of novel untested technologies is the “challenge period”.  Pursuing a focused strategy to the clinic that effectively uses existing resources will enable us to be selective in establishing one or, as much as two, key partnerships that will enable us to focus on the development of novel therapeutic vaccines for cancer and chronic viral infections.

Tell us something about your company that investors might not know.

The “vaccine” field has traditionally focused mainly on antigens rather than figuring how best to effectively shape the immune response.  Our approach is the latter.  Developing tools that shape the immune response in a tailored manner will allow us to work on expansion of  the “vaccine field” from a preventive one to also a therapeutic one, with potential applications not only for chronic viral infections but also potentially for cancer. We expect to continue to validate these tools with defined proprietary products in the clinical setting starting next year.