Ex-Moderna exec invests £685K in this London biotech developing vaccines with AI


UK biotech startup baseimmune, that are designing variant-proof vaccines using their AI data platform have just bagged £685K funding.

The round was led by European university VC fund, Creator Fund along with participation from Mike Watson, ex-president of Moderna’s infectious disease spin-out with the support of Vaccitech (the Oxford startup behind AstraZenca’s Covid-19 vaccine) and Oxford University. Maki VC and Rockmount Seed Investments .

Already, the team initiated the preclinical development of a number of its own vaccine candidates including a universal COVID vaccine and a veterinary vaccine against African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV). With the latest funds, Baseimmune intends to further the development of its platform and also wants to start the pre-clinical development of vaccines in the lab.

Dr Josh Blight, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder, said: “We harness sophisticated computation to globally monitor pathogen evolution and pathogenicity to generate a single vaccine which protects against both current and future unknown emergence strains, while targeting critical regions within the pathogen to generate a protective and future-proof vaccine. We call this vaccines with plasticity. Imagine only needing one flu shot instead of one every year, that’s vaccines with plasticity.”

Jamie Macfarlane, founder of Creator Fund, added, “Behind Baseimmune is an incredible trio of founders, consisting of Ariane and Josh, with post docs and PhDs in vaccine development, and Philip, a self-taught software engineer. They have an exceptional track record developing vaccines and are part of the Oxford ecosystem that were behind the Oxford Astrazeneca COVID Vaccine. This is the right team at the right time, and shows the power of brilliant PhDs like Josh and Ari to drive solutions for a world shaped by COVID. It is exciting to be supporting them as they lead on the opportunity for data-driven vaccine development, and develop a better approach to vaccine creaton.”

Future-proof antigens

Established by Phillip Kemlo, Ariane Gomes and Joshua Blight, Baseimmune combines big data and biological expertise to predict how viruses will change. Also, it identifies ‘future-proof’ antigens that will form the crucial elements of the next-generation of vaccines. The company’s technology delivers plasticity into these vaccines. This helps them protect against future variants of infections and circulating strains.

The London-based biotech firms’ groundbreaking platform focuses on antigen creation that challenges pathogens unlike traditional approaches. Notably, traditional antigen design is simple and makes it relatively easy for pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID) to mutate.

Baseimmune’s software generates vaccine antigens associated with agricultural and human diseases including Malaria and COVID.

Works with global leaders

Baseimmune works with world-leading academics to build revolutionary vaccines. It has five antigens in various stages of development, including a candidate vaccine for human infectious disease. These are being developed in collaboration with Vaccitech (the Oxford company that helped develop the AstraZeneca vaccine) and a revolutionary Malaria vaccine in development with Imperial College London.

Baseimmune, Professor Jake Baum, co-director of the Imperial College Institute of Infection said: “Working with BI is shaking up our vision of what a vaccine against malaria looks like. The BI approach brings entirely new ideas to something at the very top of the global health agenda, a working vaccine to stop the nearly half a million children that die each year from malaria disease.”

Professor Adrian Hill – Director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, added, “Baseimmune’s approach of using AI to build future unknown variants right into the antigen provides an exciting opportunity to generate future proof vaccines against highly variable pathogens. The team behind Baseimmune used earlier approaches while at the Jenner Institute to generate a number of vaccines, one of which has now been licensed to Vaccitech Ltd for human trials.”

CSO of Vaccitech Tom Evans talks about how founders of Baseimmune were key to the development of the HPV vaccine: “The members of the Baseimmune team were critical in the design of a multivalent HPV vaccine encompassing conserved regions of known high risk HPV strains and relevant early antigens. That confirmation of immunogenicity of that construct is now being tested in an ongoing clinical trial.”