Imperial College biotech startup raises $4.8m for future-proof vaccines

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Baseimmune recently partnered with DNA vaccine company Touchlight to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine. Photo: Getty

Baseimmune, a biotech startup at Imperial College that has set itself the goal of creating “the next generation of global vaccines for future resistance” 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 increase the number of diseases it can treat.

The tour also included the Creator Fund for early pioneer investors, along with Cherry Ventures, Beast Ventures, Rockmount Seed Investments and Maki.vc.

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“Through COVID, we have all learned the importance of having effective and rapidly developing vaccines. With its unique software platform, Baseimmune is setting the bar by leveraging AI to create vaccine therapies.” Hussain Kanji, partner at Hoxton Venture, said.

The pandemic has begun a “renaissance in vaccine research” backed by the creation of new vaccine delivery systems and robust manufacturing pipelines around the world, the company said, adding that the global vaccine market is expected to reach $108 billion by 2027.

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Baseimmune explained that most vaccine antigens rely on a single pathogen component, such as the COVID SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which limits their efficacy and ability to handle novel variants.

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She believes her vaccine design algorithm processes genomic, epidemiological, immunological, clinical and evolutionary data together to create “entirely new synthetic antigens containing all parts of the pathogen most likely to elicit a strong protective immune response.”

She refers to these antigens as “pick and mix,” which she said gives the immune system a toolkit of everything it might need to know about how to recognize and respond to pathogens, both now and in the future.

Antigen designs can then be inserted 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 potential 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 arose from research by Josh Blitt and Ariane Gomez, who met while studying for their Ph.D. at Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and collaborated with software engineer Philip Kimlow to build an antigen design algorithm.

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