Vaccitech, the company that developed the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot, files for a Nasdaq IPO

U.K. vaccine and cancer biotech Vaccitech, now famous (and perhaps in some quarters, infamous) for its tech that delivered the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, is gunning for an IPO.

The biotech, a spinout company from Oxford's Jenner Institute, one of the oldest and most renowned vaccine research centers in the world, wants a $100 million IPO as it looks to go beyond COVID for a host of pipeline assets.

These include VTP-300 for chronic hepatitis B infection, VTP-200 for the treatment of HPV, VTP-850 for the treatment of prostate cancer and VTP-600 for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

It also has prophylactic programs in its arsenal, including VTP-400 for the prevention of shingles and VTP-500 for the prevention of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

Though a rich pipeline, it has become most well known for the COVID-19 vaccine candidate it initially developed with the University of Oxford and has now been developed and sold by AstraZeneca.

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At the beginning of the pandemic and amid the phase 3 trials for the vaccine, its connection with the vaccine, now known as Covishield and/or Vaxzevria, was a boon for the biotech; however, the stronger efficacy seen from its mRNA rivals Moderna and BioNTech, as well new guidance from some countries that it may cause increased risks of certain fatal blood clots that has limited its use in younger people, has turned its association slightly sour.

We will have to wait and see whether this has any impact on its pricing. The biotech plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "VACC."

It may hope for some reprieve from any bad feeling from the first vaccine, given that last summer, it received U.K. government funding for a COVID-19 vaccine it thinks can improve on first-generation prospects such as the AstraZeneca jab it helped develop.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is based on one of Vaccitech’s chimpanzee adenovirus vectors, ChAdOx1. Having already applied the vector to MERS, the Oxford researchers were able to quickly advance a candidate against SARS-CoV-2 and emerge last year as one of the leading shots in the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Depending on the data, Vaccitech thinks the vaccine could be used as a standalone product or to improve on first-generation prophylactics, though it is still early days in development.