UK-based Vaccitech, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of novel immunotherapeutics and vaccines for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases and cancer, has raised $168M (approx €141.34M) in its Series B round of funding. According to WSJ, the company is currently valued at $425M, post-funding.
The round includes a $43M (approx €36.1M) in convertible loan notes previously issued by Vaccitech that converted into Series B shares.
The round was led by M&G Investment Management (part of M&G plc), with further participation from new investors including Tencent, Gilead Sciences, Monaco Constitutional Reserve Fund, and Future Planet Capital among others. The Series B round was also supported by existing investors, including Oxford Sciences Innovation.
Speaking on the development, Bill Enright, CEO of Vaccitech, says, “We expect this financing to enable us to reach key value inflection points for our lead programs. We now look forward to advancing key programs towards generating proof-of-concept data in indications with the significant need of effective new treatments.”
Use of the funds
The raised capital will help Vaccitech continue its development of three infectious disease and immuno-oncology programs. The programs include:
- A Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VTP-300 in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The first patient in the trial was dosed in February 2021
- A Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VTP-200 in patients with persistent, high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection
- A Phase 1/2 clinical trial of VTP-850 in combination with a checkpoint inhibitor in patients with prostate cancer
A spin-out company from the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, Vaccitech is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is engaged in the discovery and development of two viral vector vaccines, one to prevent influenza and the other to treat prostate cancer.
Viral vector vaccines are particularly good at treating recalcitrant illnesses. The technology is built on years of experience perfecting viral vector vaccine technology across multiple indications. The company’s protected chimpanzee adenovirus technology is the best way to generate T-cell responses and thereby generate lasting cell-mediated immunity.
The company was founded in 2016 by Professor Adrian Hill (Director of the Jenner Institute) and Professor Sarah Gilbert (Lead in influenza and MERS).
The company’s proprietary platform comprises modified simian adenoviral vectors – known as ChAdOx1 and ChAdOx2, to target immune response with Modified Vaccinia Ankara, or MVA, in order to boost the targeted immune response against cells infected with a virus or tumour cells.
The combination of a ChAdOx prime treatment with subsequent MVA boost has been demonstrated to drive powerful immune responses, including the leading CD8+ T cell stimulation profile in humans, to date. In addition to the HBV, HPV, and prostate cancer programs, Vaccitech’s pipeline includes product candidates targeting infectious disease (including MERS coronavirus and Herpes Zoster) and cancer (including non-small cell lung cancer).
Jack Daniels, Chief Investment Officer of M&G plc. says, “Vaccitech is aiming to address serious global public health challenges in both infectious disease and cancer with their T cell inducing immunotherapy platform. 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.”
Looking to go public by end of 2021
Vaccitech has also co-invented a COVID-19 Vaccine – AstraZeneca, earlier dubbed AZD1222. AstraZeneca gained rights to the vaccine, which has been approved for the pandemic in the European Union, the UK, and many other countries, and has already been used in dozens of millions of patients.
According to WSJ, the company is aiming for an IPO valuation of around $700M. The report suggests that this valuation could surge upto $1B by the end of this year. However, Oxford University which owns 10 per cent shares in the company, has reportedly put up few hurdles in Vaccitech’s way.
Reportedly, the biotech company was not able to get Oxford’s contract with AstraZeneca, which agreed to exclusively produce and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. This contract is said to be critical for figuring out the fair valuation of the company and for regulatory disclosures.
Vaccitech is also reportedly in a tussle with the university over the company’s role in the development of the vaccine. “Vaccitech wants Oxford’s imprimatur to market its scientists’ early work alongside Oxford in inventing the vaccine and its assistance in speeding up manufacturing for early clinical trials and providing safety data for regulators, says the journal.
There was also a brief disagreement between both the parties over where to list. Reportedly, Vaccitech preferred Nasdaq in New York, whereas the Oxford-linked investors wanted to take the London route.
Vaccitech doses first patient as part of the HPV001 clinical study
Earlier this month, the company announced the dosing of the first patient as part of the HPV001 clinical study. HPV001 is a randomised, placebo-controlled Phase 1/2 clinical trial designed to evaluate the safety and preliminary efficacy of VTP-200, Vaccitech’s immunotherapy for high-risk HPV infection and associated low-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
The study plans to enroll 105 women with high-risk HPV infection and will take place at clinical sites across the UK and EU to assess the safety and efficacy of VTP-200 in clearing high-risk HPV infection and associated lesions 12 months after patients receive treatment.
High-risk HPV infection is one of the major causes of infection-related cancer worldwide. It is estimated over 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 300,000 deaths are attributable to HPV infection each year. There is no curative treatment for HPV infection.