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invoX Pharma increases investment in pHion Therapeutics to further develop next generation of mRNA vaccines. The investment will enable pHion to progress its lead program into the clinic. The transaction builds on invoX’s initial investment in 2021.


LONDON, United Kingdom, June, 1, 2023: invoX Pharma Limited (“invoX”), a U.K.-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Sino Biopharmaceutical Limited (“Sino Biopharm”) (HKEX 1177 HK) with an advancing pipeline of innovative products, today announced that it has completed a second tranche of investment in pHion Therapeutics (“pHion”), a next-generation mRNA vaccine company. The transaction supports invoX’s strategy to be a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company and its ongoing commitment to deliver innovative life-saving therapies.


pHion is developing a pipeline of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines focussed on oncology and infectious diseases. The company’s proprietary RALA platform can deliver anionic molecules such as mRNA and saRNA in a stealth-like way, evading detection, to generate a potent antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell response. The RALA peptide-based drug delivery system is based on a sequence of 30 amino acids which condenses anionic cargo, irrespective of size, into nanoparticles that are highly efficient at cellular entry and can outperform currently available technologies. Compared with traditional mRNA vaccine delivery platforms, the RALA platform has the added advantage of ease of scalability and logistics, including stability at room temperature.


Under the leadership of CEO and Founder, Prof Helen McCarthy, pHion has made significant progress since invoX’s initial investment in June 2021, with advances made across all pre-clinical programs and the establishment of a laboratory in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the production of pHion’s mRNA vaccines. The additional investment will support growth of the company’s proprietary RALA platform with an immediate focus on the advancement of pHion’s lead project, PTX_V1, into clinical trials in the first half of 2024. PTX_V1 is a first-in-class therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of human papilloma virus (HPV)-related cancers. Infection with HPV is responsible for approximately 90% of cervical cancers and up to 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, with a high unmet clinical need. pHion’s pipeline also includes differentiated therapeutic vaccines for the treatment of ovarian (PTX_V5) and prostate (PTX_V3) cancers.


This investment has received all required regulatory approvals, including clearance from the regulatory agency in charge of enforcing the U.K.’s National Security and Investment Act, testimony to invoX’s continued willingness to build trust and work closely with regulators.


Prof. Helen McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer, and Founder of pHion, said:


“At pHion Therapeutics, it is our mission to pioneer next-generation, first-in-class vaccines for infectious disease and oncology through stealth-like delivery of mRNA. With the additional support from invoX, we are set to accelerate our lead candidate, PTX_V1, to be ready for the clinic in 2024 and further develop our exciting preclinical pipeline of therapeutic and prophylactic mRNA vaccines. mRNA vaccines have the potential to truly transform healthcare interventions globally, and pHion will be at the forefront of this transformation, enabled by the RALA platform delivery technology.”


Ben Toogood, Chief Executive Officer of invoX, said:


“We are delighted to have completed this additional investment in pHion. invoX’s resources, global reach and innovative R&D platform can help the company reach its potential and deliver treatments for patients around the world suffering from cancer and infectious diseases. We look forward to seeing PTX_V1 reach the clinic and supporting this program into the next stages of its development.


About pHion

pHion Therapeutics is a UK based vaccine development company, with a pipeline of therapeutic and prophylactic vaccines focussed on oncology and viral infections. The company’s proprietary RALA platform can deliver nucleic acids in a stealth-like way, evading detection, to generate a potent antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell response. pHion’s lead product is a therapeutic vaccine against HPV driven cancers (PTX_V1), with Phase I/IIA clinical trials planned to commence in 2024. For further information about pHion Therapeutics, please visit: https://www.phiontx.co.uk.


About invoX

invoX Pharma was incorporated in March 2021 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sino Biopharm, a global top 40 pharmaceutical company with more than 24,000 employees. UK-based invoX is a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company focusing on R&D and business development activities outside of China, with a core focus on oncology and respiratory therapeutics. invoX’s main goal is to become a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company with a pipeline of innovative products addressing unmet healthcare needs worldwide. At its core, the Company aspires to improve patients’ lives by creating access to innovative medicines. For further information about invoX Pharma, please visit: https://invoxpharma.com/.

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mRNA vaccine company, pHion Therapeutics, has announced a joint Innovate UK award with Queen’s University Belfast. The £1million grant will fund a 24-month project to develop a multi-antigenic therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer. This next generation vaccine is possible because of pHion’s innovative technology which delivers the mRNA into antigen-presenting cells in stealth mode. The company’s proprietary RALA platform uses a peptide as the ‘taxi’ to deliver the mRNA cargo, and because the peptide is not recognised as foreign, no adverse response is triggered, and the mRNA trains the immune cells to attack the cancer.


The project is a collaboration between founder and CEO of pHion Therapeutics, Professor Helen McCarthy, and Dr Niamh Buckley, both from the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s. The £1million grant was awarded in the recent Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst 2022 Round 2: Industry-led Research & Development funding competition.


Prostate Cancer accounts for 7.3% of all cancers worldwide (1.4 million cases) and 27.8% of all cancers in the UK. The 5-year survival rate for the most aggressive form, metastatic Castrate Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC), is only 28.9% in the UK; and the incidence is also set to rise by a further 12% by 2035. Worldwide, a recent Global Cancer Observatory (GCO) study has predicted a 60% increase to ~2.3 million new cases and 740,000 deaths by 2040.


As Professor Helen McCarthy explains: ‘Given the likely trajectory for this aggressive disease, there is an urgent need to develop a next generation vaccine that can reduce mortality rates. Our vision is to begin large-scale toxicology studies by the end of the project and, from there, to progress to clinical trials.”


“The investment from Innovate UK will support growth in the global use of pHion’s unique technology, and further strengthen the UK's position in the emerging gene therapy market.”



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pHion Therapeutics, in partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation and Reach Regulatory, secure Sustainable Innovation Funding Award from Innovate UK

Collaboration builds on exciting pre-clinical work at pHion Therapeutics to develop an innovative RALA/RNAi therapy for COVID-19 patients

This award will accelerate the development of pHion Therapeutics’ nanoparticle technologies in partnership with the Centre for Process Innovation and Reach Regulatory.

This £300k award will enable pHion Therapeutics to realise the transformative potential of an ongoing project, which was also supported by Innovate UK’s COVID-19 Fast-Track Competition, to develop a RALA/RNAi Therapy for the transient knockdown of a key receptor for COVID-19 patients.

The Sustainable Innovation Award will accelerate and optimise the scale-up of the RALA/RNAi therapy to patient doses and develop the regulatory framework for the RALA technology.

The 9-month project will enable pHion to take this therapy onwards to the clinic and position RALA as the go-to delivery system for RNAi therapeutics to the lung.

Commenting on the collaboration, Professor Helen McCarthy, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of pHion Therapeutics, said:

“The potential of RALA technology as an innovative RNAi therapy for COVID-19, as well as other lung targeted therapies, is significant. We are excited to work with the Centre for Process Innovation on the scale-up of RALA/RNAi nanoparticles and with Reach Regulatory to develop the requirements for clinic.”

Dr Graham Worrall, Chief Technologist at CPI added:

CPI is delighted to be involved in the development of such an exciting and ground breaking technology. Working with such an innovative group of partners to improve the manufacturing process and corresponding scale up we look forward to helping bring this to patients as soon as possible.

Dr Stephen Liggett, CEO at Reach Regulatory commented:

This award provides a great opportunity to expedite the innovative RALA technology platform towards the clinic and provide significant patient benefits. I am delighted to be working on such an exciting project with pHion and CPI.

Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell said:

“In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy.

This project led by pHion Therapeutics, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”


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