Madison pharmaceutical developer FluGen raises $5.6 million

Company working to create universal flu vaccine

Madison-based biotechnology firm FluGen Inc. has raised a $5.6 million debt funding round to continue its development of a universal flu vaccine.

The company raised the latest funding from a total of 36 investors, according to an SEC filing this week. The financing will be used along with an existing U.S. Department of Defense grant to fund the completion of FluGen’s first challenge study and the move into a second clinical trial, said Paul Radspinner, founder, president and chief executive officer of FluGen.

“We’re doing something no one’s ever done, to our knowledge,” Radspinner said. “What we did was to give about 100 volunteers, half of them received our vaccine, half received a placebo, and then a month later they were all given the flu.”

FluGen then measured whether the patient became ill or not, and the severity of symptoms. It expects the results of the first challenge study in the first quarter of 2019.

The company is trying to create a flu vaccine that could be used for multiple years, even in a highly drifted strain of flu, Radspinner said.

“Many years they make the vaccine and then the strain changes before the vaccine comes out,” he said. “We’re trying to resolve that problem.”

Venture Investors of Madison is the lead investor in the debt round.

“The standard vaccine has four components and this is a proof of concept study that will test one of those components,” Radspinner said. “Ultimately, we will need to manufacture all four of those components, so that’s what we’re moving toward.”

FluGen, which was established in 2007 and has 13 employees, has raised more than $23 million in debt and equity funding from investors in previous rounds.

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