Baseimmune, an Imperial College biotech startup that has set itself the goal of creating the “next generation of future-proof universal vaccines” against health threats including COVID, malaria and African Swine Fever, has raised $4.8m (£3.5m).
The investment round, led by Hoxton Ventures, will enable the company to develop more vaccines and expand the number of diseases it is able to tackle.
The round also included early round lead investors Creator Fund, along with Cherry Ventures, Beast Ventures, Rockmount Seed Investments and Maki.vc.
“Through COVID, we’ve all learned the importance of having effective and rapidly developed vaccines. With its unique software platform, Baseimmune is setting the bar by leveraging AI to innovate vaccine therapies.” said Hussein Kanji, partner at Hoxton Venture.
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The company said the pandemic has started a "renaissance in vaccine research" that is underpinned by the creation of novel vaccine delivery systems and robust worldwide manufacturing pipelines, adding that the global vaccine market is predicted to reach $108bn by 2027.
Baseimmune explained that most vaccine antigens are based on a single pathogen component, such as the spike protein of the COVID SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which limits their effectiveness and ability to cope with new variants.
It believes its vaccine design algorithm crunches genomic, epidemiological, immunological, clinical and evolutionary data together to create “entirely new synthetic antigens containing all the parts of the pathogen that are most likely to evoke a strong protective immune response.”
It refers to these as "pick and mix" antigens, which it said present the immune system with a toolkit of everything it is likely to need to know about how to recognise and respond to a particular pathogen, both now and in the future.
The antigen designs can then be fed into any vaccine technology platform, including mRNA, DNA and viral vectors, to create universal future-proof vaccines that should be effective against all current and likely variants.
Baseimmune recently partnered with DNA vaccine company Touchlight to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine aimed at tackling the emergence of new variants and preventing future pandemics.
The company grew out of research by Josh Blight and Ariane Gomes, who met while doing their PhDs at the Jenner Institute at Oxford University and teamed up with software engineer Phillip Kemlo to build the antigen design algorithm.
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