The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled a renaissance in vaccine research, underpinned by the creation of novel vaccine delivery systems and robust worldwide manufacturing pipelines, with the global vaccine market predicted to reach $108 billion by 2027.
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. London-based biotech startup Baseimmune’s 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.
Eyes to develop more vaccines
In a recent development, Baseimmune has secured $4.8 million (nearly £3.5 million) funding to develop the next generation of future-proof universal vaccines against existing and emerging human and animal health threats including COVID, malaria and African Swine Fever.
The investment round was led by Hoxton Ventures along with participation from early round lead investors Creator Fund, along with Cherry Ventures, Beast Ventures, Rockmount and Maki.vc. The proceeds of this round will be enable the company to grow, develop more vaccines in parallel and further expanding the number of diseases it is able to tackle.
Hussein Kanji, partner at Hoxton Ventures, said, “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.”
Future-proof universal vaccines
Baseimmune grew out of research by Dr Josh Blight and Dr Ariane Gomes, who met while doing their PhDs at the prestigious Jenner Institute at Oxford University and teamed up with software engineer Phillip Kemlo to build the antigen design algorithm.
The ‘pick and mix’ antigens effectively 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.
Recently, the Baseimmune partnered with DNA vaccine pioneers Touchlight to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine aimed at tackling the emergence of new variants and preventing future pandemics. Also, the team fed the small amount of existing data about SARS-CoV-2 into their algorithm, which correctly predicted major variants such as Alpha and Delta that would not emerge for another year.