Cancer vaccine startup Oxford Vacmedix taps Asian syndicate for series A cash

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OVM’s two most advanced vaccines, OVM-100 and OVM-200, are closing in on phase 1. (Pixabay/geralt)

A syndicate of South Korean and Chinese investors has powered Oxford Vacmedix (OVM) to a series A round. OVM will use the $12.5 million (£9 million) investment to take vaccines against cervical cancer and other solid tumors into the clinic.

Cancer ROP, a South Korean molecular diagnostics firm formerly known as MGmed, contributed to the series A round alongside Chinese investors. The Asia-dominated round is unusual for a preclinical British biotech but is in keeping with the strategy pursued by OVM, which established a subsidiary in Hong Kong and an R&D center in the Chinese city of Changzhou shortly after opening its doors. Korea is next on OVM’s tour of Asia.

“We have already licensed our technology into Chinese market and we are also looking forward to collaborating with Cancer ROP on the development of our vaccines in the Republic of Korea,” OVM CEO William Finch said in a statement.

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OVM’s two most advanced vaccines, OVM-100 and OVM-200, are closing in on phase 1. OVM-100 is an HPV cervical cancer vaccine. And OVM-200 is a survivin-targeted vaccine for the treatment of solid tumors. OVM has also done work on tuberculosis and nasopharyngeal carcinoma. But it is OVM-100 and OVM-200 that are making the running on the strength of data from tumor models.

Initially, OVM will explore the use of the vaccines as monotherapies. Its R&D strategy also calls for the assets to be trialed in combination with other immuno-oncology agents, specifically checkpoint inhibitors.

OVM’s pipeline is based on the research of Shisong Jiang, Ph.D. Jiang founded OVM to turn ideas he incubated while at the University of Oxford and Harvard University into a pipeline of cancer vaccines. Jiang’s big idea was to break target proteins up into short, overlapping fragments to boost cellular immunity. The concept graduated into a practical prospect when Jiang and collaborators at Oxford learned how to synthesize the peptide fragments in bacteria, cutting production times and costs.