Wayne Pisano will lead Cranbury, New Jersey-based VaxInnate, a biotechnology company founded by two Yale School of Medicine immunobiology professors in 2002 — Ruslan Medzhitov and Richard A. Flavell. It has a vaccine for dengue fever poised to enter phase 1 clinical trials and also has vaccines against pandemic and seasonal influenza in various stages of clinical trials. It is also developingvaccines for C. difficile and malaria.
Its vaccines are genetically engineered and combine antigens with a bacterial protein called flagellin that stimulates toll-like-receptors or TLRs. The TLRs are part of the innate immune system that launches the first unspecific immune response against a foreign pathogen.
Last year, it was granted a five-year research grant valued up to $196 million by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to fund the development of seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines using recombinant technology. Among its venture capital backers are: HealthCare Ventures, Oxford Bioscience Partners, MedImmune Ventures, CHL Medical Partners, New Leaf Venture Partners, Canaan Partners and Wellcome Trust.
Pisano worked for Sanofi Pasteur for 14 years, which culminated with the CEO role that he held for four years before retiring in 2011. Sanofi Pasteur’s consolidated sales for its human vaccines business in 2011 were $4.6 billion (3.469 billion).
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