Project Research Specialist
baseimmune is a discovery-phase biotech start-up focused on antigen discovery and vaccine development. baseimmune’s technology harnesses pathogen and epidemiology big data combined with biological expertise to devise a robust method for antigen discovery, one of the major roadblocks in vaccine development. By streamlining the antigen selection process, we can develop better vaccines and empower agriculture and public health to stop emerging dangerous pathogens from spreading.
Why vaccines are timely
During the past decades several notable viruses, parasites and bacteria have suddenly emerged from anonymity to become serious global health threats, with broad impact on the healthcare systems and wider economy. In fact, infectious diseases currently account for 3 out of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, and vaccines still remain one of the most powerful tools to manage or even eliminate the disease. The idea of protecting a large proportion of the population by vaccination in order to effectively “starve” the pathogen of a supply of new hosts is not new. Smallpox, polio, tetanus, whooping cough and rinderpest - infectious diseases that used to kill or disable millions of people - are only some examples that have been eradicated or seen very rarely, solely through vaccination.
The global climate change, continuous population movements, the overpopulation of the planet, and movement into new ecosystems through deforestation are just a few of the factors involved in the emergence of new infectious diseases or the re-emergence of ‘old’ ones, with Covid-19 being the latest example. Current estimates indicate that about 70% of the world’s population is at high risk for contracting fatal infectious diseases. Taken together the increased risk for disease emergence and that the vaccine field suffers from high attrition rates and failure, we believe that innovative approaches for introducing new vaccines in the market are urgently needed.
How does our solution change the current vaccine design pipeline?
There are two major roadblocks in the development of a subunit vaccine, the induction of effective immune response and antigen selection. Immunogenicity is achieved by associating your antigen of choice with an adjuvant or delivery platform, such as viral vectors, nanoparticles or immunoreactive compounds such as Alumn. While the vaccine field has seen an unprecedented expansion of technologies and innovation that act as adjuvants and induce immune responses, the antigen selection field has not benefited from the same advancements. Pathogens inherently exhibit variability in their genome as a way to always maintain its fitness within a population, which as a result leads to the emergence of different strains with different global distributions. In fact, the emergence of new strains is a common occurrence. As a result, the field faces the major difficulty of trying to develop a vaccine that is able to cover all the circulating strains as well as future unknown strains. For example, new flu vaccines must be developed each year to cover what is thought will be the next circulating winter strain. This is not only costly but there is no guarantee the vaccine will cover the strain that actually emerges. Therefore, the targets of the pathogens proteome you select as the antigen of your vaccine is critical for success.
To tackle these fundamental issues, we’ve come together to develop an innovative vaccine design platform that uses sophisticated computational approaches to globally monitory 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. To do this we utilise a large number of big data sources including pathogen genomics, proteomics, epidemiological and clinical data.
What’s our target market?
Our mission is to deliver solutions to unmet needs both for agricultural and human diseases. We initiated the pre-clinical development of a vaccine designed to target all circulate strains of the African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) and another candidate vaccine for human infectious diseases is currently in the making in collaboration with Vaccitech. We are also collaborating with world-class academics to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
What’s next on our roadmap?
baseimmune was founded in August 2019 and is proudly supported by KQ labs, UKI2S and Innovate UK. Manufacturing and testing of an ASFV vaccine is underway and we expect to deliver a vaccine against Africa Swine Fever in the next few years.
Meet the team
The baseimmune team is made up of a group of highly motivated and experienced vaccinologists and software engineer with complimentary backgrounds. The vast collective experience spans all aspects of vaccinology, immunity, infectious diseases and computational software development, and has been gained while addressing complex challenges of various diseases.
As a co-founding partner of baseimmune, Ariane plays a critical role in the strategical, scientific and financial management of the company. She is a biologist specialised in immunology and vaccine development and she holds a DPhil in Clinical Medicine from the University of Oxford. Her expertise spans development, characterisation and testing of novel vaccine platforms and adjuvants with a special interest in unravelling the interactions of vaccines with the immune system. So far, she has contributed to the pre-clinical development of 6 vaccines developed during her time at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute. Her interest in the vaccine development industry was sparked whilst conducting research at leading centres for vaccine development and infectious diseases including the Stanford School of Medicine and the Fiocruz Institute in Brazil and most recently as a postdoctoral researcher at the University College London.
Josh has a DPhil in Vaccinology and Infectious Diseases from the University of Oxford and has long experience in using complex bioinformatic approaches to design vaccines against various infectious diseases. He has a strong scientific background and extensive experience in a broad spectrum of diseases from dengue and chikungunya to human papilloma virus (HPV) and malaria. Two of his vaccine candidates are currently in human clinical trials, he holds patents for several others and he has overseen the preclinical development of 5 more vaccines. As a co-founding partner of baseimmune, he is responsible for the scientific excellence of the company as well as for the selection of the vaccine candidates. Previous positions include vaccine design, development and testing in collaboration with the Jenner Institute and scientific consultancy for a leading pharmaceutical company. For the last three years he has been working as a postdoctoral research associate at Imperial College London on developing new innovative ways to create malaria vaccines.
Phillip is a computer software engineer with a broad skill set including data management, system virtualisation and task level parallelism. He is passionate in designing complex logic systems as well as to assemble and build complex datasets to identify crucial trends and insights. As a co-founding partner of baseimmune and our software consultant, he is working on a variety of projects developing and optimising a diverse library set including the development of the bespoke software and database that underpins our key-platform. He has worked on previous vaccine projects in collaboration with the Jenner Institute, some of which are in human clinical trials.
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