Gaithersburg, MD — US-based biotech company VLP Therapeutics, Inc. (VLPT) announced that it has named Ms. Miwa Toyoda, formerly a venture capitalist specialized in pharma and biotech at JAFCO Group Co., Ltd., as chief business officer, effective March 15, in a bid to accelerate its vaccine research and development projects and expand the portfolio.

From December 2014 to January 2021, Ms. Toyoda was a venture capitalist at JAFCO Group in Japan, where she led investments in five biotech/medtech companies at home and abroad, and served on the Boards or as an observer, providing hands-on support for their organization structuring, hiring, business development, fund raising, etc. She also provided business consultation as a specialist at the Medical Innovation Support Office (MEDISO) sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and assistance with technology transfer as a project promoter of the STart-ups from Advanced Research and Technology (START) Program sponsored by the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

Before joining JAFCO Group, she held several positions in business development, clinical monitoring, clinical planning and discovery research at ONO Pharmaceutical in Japan, where she was primarily involved in scouting in-licensing candidates and exploring out-licensing opportunities at its headquarters as well as US subsidiaries. She received a Master’s of Pharmaceutical Science in Pharmacology from The University of Tokyo in 1997.

“The vaccine technologies invented by Dr. Akahata fascinated me so much that I decided to join VLP Therapeutics. I believe that our versatile platform technologies can be applicable to a diverse range of therapeutic uses, including cancer, COVID-19, and other infectious diseases,” says Ms. Toyoda. “I am thrilled to be joining VLP Therapeutics at such an exciting time in the company’s development. I look forward to leveraging my extensive experience in pharmaceutical industry and venture capital to support the company’s strategic plan and to helping the company achieve its goals of developing high value therapeutics to improve the lives fighting against diseases across the globe.”

“Miwa has a proven track record in pharma and life science technology assessment, investment, and management with her background in the field.” says Dr. Wataru Akahata, CEO and co-founder of VLPT. “Miwa joining us will be a major asset to us as we carry on, across the US and Japan, with our R&D of novel cancer therapeutic vaccines as well as infectious disease vaccines. I believe that Miwa’s incredible skillset and experience will help expedite our vaccine projects and put the technologies to use.”

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About VLP Therapeutics: VLP Therapeutics, Inc. (VLPT), co-founded in 2013 by Drs. Wataru Akahata, Ryuji Ueno, and Sachiko Kuno, is a Gaithersburg, MD-based biotech company with a mission to address unmet medical needs worldwide and expand the frontiers of vaccine treatment. Led by CEO Akahata VLPT is currently engaged in research and development of a cancer treatment vaccine1 as well as prophylactic vaccines against malaria, dengue, and novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) using VLPT’s proprietary platform technologies.

About VLP Therapeutics Japan: VLP Therapeutics Japan, LLC (VLPTJ), founded in 2020 by Dr. Wataru Akahata and headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based VLP Therapeutics, Inc. VLPTJ is currently engaged in research and development of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine using self-amplifying (replicon) RNA technology proprietary to VLPT, with support from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)2. Fujifilm Corporation has agreed to manufacture the vaccine formulations.3

  1. Press release (March 15, 2021): “VLP Therapeutics raises $16M Series A for cancer treatment vaccine R&D
  2. AMED grant program: “FY2020 Development of Vaccines for the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)(2nd)” | Proposal selected: “Development of COVID-19 vaccine in Japan using self-amplifying RNA technology”
  3. News release (October 1, 2020): “Fujifilm Concludes a Manufacturing Contract Agreement with VLP Therapeutics, for a COVID-19 Vaccine Formulation

About Dr. Wataru Akahata: Upon graduation from the University of Tokyo in 1997, Akahata studied at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies. In 2002 he earned a PhD for his HIV vaccine studies under supervision of professor Hayami Masanori at the Kyoto University Institute for Virus Research. He then started his career at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Vaccine Research Center in the US through 2012. During that time he invented a virus-like particle (VLP) vaccine for chikungunya virus in 2009, on which he published an original article in Nature Medicine with the VLP image featured on the cover in 2010. He eventually won a NIH Director’s Award for his discovery of the vaccine and three other alphavirus vaccines in 2012. In addition to his role as the co-founder and CEO of VLP Therapeutics, Inc. in the US and CEO and chief R&D officer of VLP Therapeutics Japan, LLC, Akahata serves as a visiting professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and specially appointed associate professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan.

Contact: Yutaka Iijima, Global Communications and IR Manager