OurCrowd, the world’s largest crowdfunding venture investment platform, based in Jerusalem, today announced that it would lead a $12 million investment in the newly formed MigVax Corp., which will develop a novel COVID-19 vaccine. MigVax, an affiliate of The Migal Galilee Research Institute, is pioneering the effort to develop Israel’s human vaccine against COVID-19.
The Migal Galilee Research Institute has previously developed a vaccine against infectious bronchitis virus, a coronavirus strain which causes bronchial disease affecting poultry. The safety and effectiveness of the poultry vaccine has been proven in animal trials carried out at Israel’s Veterinary institute. MigVax is using the methods learned from the existing vaccine to develop a new oral subunit human vaccine against COVID-19. MIGAL’s interdisciplinary vaccine development team has been collaborating for several years on other vaccine development projects and is highly qualified to carry out this project.
OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said, “We are humbled by the opportunity to invest in this company, which means so much to so many people. The race for a COVID-19 vaccine is about saving countless lives, and we are grateful to be able to support this important effort.”
“The experiments we have carried out so far show that because the vaccine does not include the virus itself, it will be safe to use in immune-suppressed recipients, and has fewer chances of side effects,” said David Zigdon, CEO of the Migal Galilee Research Institute. “It uses a protein vector that can form and secrete a chimeric soluble protein which carries the viral antigen into tissue and causes the production of antibodies against the virus by the immune system. We are now working to adjust our generic vaccine system to COVID-19. Using a fermentation process, MigVax aims to have the material ready for clinical trials within a few months.”
OurCrowd Venture Partner Morris Laster, who is leading the investment, said, “We feel that the vaccine has already shown high safety and efficiency in animal models and we believe the approach we are taking is safer with a higher likelihood of achieving a meaningful immune response.”
In February, Israeli Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis issued a statement saying the vaccine could be ready within 90 days: “Congratulations to MIGAL [The Galilee Research Institute] on this exciting breakthrough. I am confident there will be further rapid progress, enabling us to provide a needed response to the grave global COVID-19 threat,” Akunis said, referring to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.”
Migal Galilee Research Institute LTD is an internationally recognized and multi-disciplinary applied research institute, specializes in biotechnology and computer sciences, plant science, precision agriculture and environmental sciences as well as food, nutrition and health. Migal is the largest regional R&D center of the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry based in Kiryat Shemona, with 310 employees including 90 PhDs and 190 researchers.