It may be cold, but we’re in one of the hottest spots for biotech – Oxford. We’re paying Vaccitech a visit to find out how its vaccines could help to beat cancer and infectious diseases.
Mission: Vaccitech’s aim is to develop vaccines that stimulate a strong T cell response, as well as the antibody response we tend to see. This is based on findings that some diseases are unsusceptible to antibody-based approaches. The company’s platform delivers two viral vector vaccines to provide a ‘primer’ and a ‘booster’ that give rise to a strong immune response by both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Its lead candidates target flu and prostate cancer, which are in Phase II and Phase I trials, respectively.
Comment: Vaccitech is taking current shortcomings to make a better vaccine. So far, Vaccitech looks to be succeeding. Its universal flu vaccine generates a strong T-cell response and a better antibody response than the standard flu virus alone. A Phase I trial tested the company’s prostate cancer vaccine in almost 50 patients, and a Phase II trial is planned to test it in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor, Opdivo.
In the flu vaccine field, Vaccitech will come up against fellow British, VirionHealth, which achieved a £13M IPO to support the development of its universal vaccine. For cancer vaccines, Vaccitech will have to squeeze into a field jam-packed with interesting approaches, including BioNTech’s mRNA technology and Targovax’s peptides.
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