Oxford spin out Vaccitech to develop universal flu vaccine

10 May 2016 (Last Updated May 10th, 2016 18:30)

Oxford spin out company Vaccitech is set to develop a universal flu vaccine to improve protection provided by the seasonal flu vaccination.

Oxford spin out company Vaccitech is set to develop a universal flu vaccine to improve protection provided by the seasonal flu vaccination.

Launched with £10m seed investment from Oxford Sciences Innovation, Vaccitech is also developing and testing other vaccines that trigger the immune response required to prevent or treat a range of serious diseases.

Oxford University Jenner Institute team professor Sarah Gilbert said: "Clinical trials of the universal vaccine here in Oxford have shown great promise. The vaccine has proven safe and shown good clinical responses, including enhanced protection against the flu detectable in older adults even one year after vaccination. It has performed well when given with the standard flu vaccine.

"We are planning a Phase IIb, 1,500 patient trial scheduled to begin later in 2016, the next step towards regulatory approval.

"The vaccine has proven safe and shown good clinical responses, including enhanced protection against the flu detectable in older adults even one year after vaccination."

"To create a vaccine that works against every flu virus, we've targeted two proteins inside the virus that do not change, even as the virus mutates the proteins on its surface. This also means the vaccine should work against all human, avian and swine influenza strains."

There is currently no single vaccine can give immunity against major flu virus strains. Nearly 250,000 to 500,000 deaths and three to five million cases of severe disease worldwide are recorded due to seasonal outbreaks of flu each year.

Vaccitech is also developing a clinical stage therapeutic vaccine for prostate cancer.

Currently, a Phase I/II study and recruiting subjects in Oxford and other centres is underway to assess safety and efficacy of this vaccine in men with low or intermediate risk prostate cancer.

The spin out company is developing additional pre-clinical programmes for a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). According to a WHO report, this emerging virus has a 36% mortality rate.