It is always better to prevent disease than trying to treat it, and Vaxcyte sought to improve on the largest selling vaccine of all time.

In 2015, Abingworth sat down with a fledgling small start-up with a big idea – make a better pneumococcal vaccine – and in particular the largest selling vaccine in the world (Prevnar 13) by using innovative new technologies to leapfrog the competition.

Vaxcyte (then known as SutroVax) quickly got to work by constructing each component of the vaccine one by one, linking each polysaccharide to specific sites on a protein carrier to provide maximal effect. Then the company expanded beyond 13 vaccine strains to 17, then 20, then 24 and beyond.

In parallel, they created a strategic relationship with Lonza, the largest independent drug manufacturer in the world, with the largest vaccine manufacturing program in outside of a major pharmaceutical company. With preclinical proof of concept in hand and the final stages of manufacturing work coming into place, Vaxcyte has filed a S-1 and hopes to raise over $100M in an IPO mid-2020 to continue to expand its pipeline and seek rapid regulatory approval. Vaxcyte will be in the clinic in 2021 taking on the largest vaccine products in the world.

Abingworth role

Abingworth led the $22M Series A financing with financial and strategic investors and Managing Partner Kurt von Emster assumed the Chairman role. Abingworth also helped with the strategic discussions with Lonza. Once the early company building was done, Kurt recruited the retiring head of GSK Vaccines, Moncef Slaoui, to the board and stepped aside so he could become Chairman (Dr. Slaoui was recently named the White House COVID Vaccines Head). Abingworth is Vaxcyte’s largest investor and Kurt von Emster is Audit Chair of the Board of Directors.