Immune Design receives funds to create new adjuvants

Immune Design, a biotech company based in Seattle, Wash., has received $32 million in Series B investment to finance the next stage of its development plans for new and better vaccines.

ProQuest Investments, a new investor to Immune Design, has joined the Column Group, Versant Ventures and Alta Partners in funding this continued growth, according to The money will go towards continued adjuvant research and development as well as Immune Design’s work on new therapeutic cancer vaccines.

Immune Design was launched by Steve Reed in 2008 with an initial investment of $18 million. Reed was also the founder of the non-profit Infectious Disease Research Institute in 1993.

His company’s research has primarily focused on the creation of synthetic adjuvants, used to increase the efficacy of vaccines so that multiple injections are not needed. Furthermore, they could be used to redirect the resources of the immune system toward an internal invader, such as cancer.

The earlier generation of adjuvants, known as MPL, were made from natural ingredients. They were effective, but they were difficult to manufacture and expensive. Immune Design has isolated the specific compounds in MPL that actually initiate an immune response and is working to create them in the laboratory using a synthetic chemical process. Reed and his team call these synthetic adjuvants GLA. They are intended to be cheaper, consistently reproducible, scalable and effective.