Oxford spinoff Vaccitech nets £10M for flu, cancer vaccines

With a universal flu vaccine candidate serving as its lead product, University of Oxford spinoff Vaccitech launched this week with £10 million and plans to get busy.

The company--based on research from the university--additionally has ambitions in vaccines to boost cancer immunotherapies, according to Isis Innovation, the school’s research and technology commercialization arm. Oxford Sciences Innovation, Invesco, Lansdowne Partners and Woodford Investment Management participated in the fundraising, according to the Financial Times.

The Jenner Institute at Oxford led the vaccine development, with director Adrian Hill telling the newspaper the universal flu vaccine “should work against all human, avian and swine influenza strains” because the team “targeted two proteins inside the virus which do not change.” The vaccine is “already showing promise” in Phase II trials, according to Isis.

Vaccitech is one of 9 spinoffs so far this year by the university, which FT said has been the world’s top medical research university for the past 5 years.

In universal flu, Vaccitech will be operating in a space occupied by names large and small. Last August, Madison, WI-based FluGen said it raised $12 million in a Series A to fund a Phase I for its candidate. Other companies and institutions participating in the race to market a universal flu vaccine include Biondvax ($BVXV), TSRI, NIAID and Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ).

The developers are working to market new vaccines that seek to improve on the traditional flu shots taken each year which are based off specific strains. Strains can often be mismatched due to long manufacturing processes, causing low protection rates. Vaccitech’s product would be used to boost protection for the seasonal flu shot in people over 65.

Vaccitech also joins new companies such as Gritstone Oncology and Neon Therapeutics ($NEON) operating in the challenging cancer vaccines field, while other biotechs such as Bavarian Nordic, Inovio ($INO) and Aduro ($ADRO) are seeking to advance their products with pharma partnerships.

- here's the Isis Innovation release
- get more from FT (sub. req.)

Related Article:
FluGen reels in $12M to fund PhI of its universal flu jab

Pictured is a view of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, courtesy of Wikipedia user Laemq.