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Oxford startup behind AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine gets £120M to treat more diseases

Image credits: Vaccitech

The Oxford startup behind AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, Vaccitech has announced to have bagged $168 million (nearly £120.5 million) Series B funding, which comprises $43 million (nearly £31 million) in a convertible loan.

As per numerous reports, the move is a step in Vaccitech preparations for going public as soon as this year. This was first reported on The Wall Street Journal.

To focus on continued development its programs

The investment round was led by M&G Investment Management (part of M&G plc) alongside participation from new investors, including Tencent, Gilead Sciences, Monaco Constitutional Reserve Fund, and Future Planet Capital. Even existing investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation took part in the round.

The funds will support the continued development of three infectious disease and immuno-oncology programs. These include a phase 1/2 trials of VTP-300 in patients suffering from chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, VTP-200 in patients with persistent, high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and VTP-850 in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor in patients with prostate cancer. The first patient in the first trial program was dosed in February 2021.

“We expect this financing to enable us to reach key value inflection points for our lead programs,” said Bill Enright, Chief Executive Officer of Vaccitech. “We now look forward to advancing key programs towards generating proof-of-concept data in indications with significant need of effective new treatments.”

“Vaccitech is aiming to address serious global public health challenges in both infectious disease and cancer with their T cell inducing immunotherapy platform,” said Jack Daniels, Chief Investment Officer of M&G plc. “We believe their innovative approach, based on foundational research performed at the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, could provide a solution for many serious diseases.”

Targets more infectious diseases

Founded by Adrian Hill and Sarah Gilbert in 2016, Vaccitech’s proprietary prime-boost platform combines modified simian adenoviral vectors (known as ChAdOx1 or ChAdOx2) to prime a targeted immune response with the Modified Vaccinia Ankara virus (MVA). This is intended to boost the targeted immune response against cells infected with a virus or tumor cells.

Vaccitech’s heterologous prime-boost approach has been demonstrated to drive powerful immune responses including the leading CD8+ T cell stimulation profile in humans, to date. Its pipeline includes products targeting infectious diseases such as MERS coronavirus and Herpes Zoster, and cancer including non-small cell lung cancer.