Oncimmune and MDC awarded funding for research tool

Through the programme, the collaborators will develop an extensive COVID-19 sample severity-based biorepository and data registry from 3,000 UK COVID-19 patients

Oncimmune Holdings has been awarded funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) 'Ideas to Address COVID-19' programme, to support a collaboration with Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) to deliver the IMmunity Profiling of pAtients with COVID-19 for Therapy and Triage (IMPACTT) programme.

The IMPACTT programme will collect samples and clinical data from 3,000 UK COVID-19 patients to be studied by Oncimmune to develop and validate an infectious disease NavigAID panel of biomarkers that can be used in COVID-19 research. This research tool will be designed to predict both likely patient response to the virus and effectiveness of vaccines and treatment against it.

Oncimmune currently has over 800 SARS-CoV-2 related antigens and peptides for profiling COVID-19 patients and predicting their response to vaccines and therapeutics against the virus. MDC, which will be responsible for collecting the patient samples, is the UK Government’s hub for medicines research and development and the organisation responsible for setting up the Lighthouse Lab Network, a multi-party collaboration of laboratories processing COVID-19 test samples.

The programme will analyse the immune system’s response of COVID-19 patients, and using Oncimmune’s proprietary profiling platform, the company will stratify these patients into three categories of response to the virus - mild, moderate and severe. The data will be used to develop, refine and validate a NavigAID panel which can be deployed to predict COVID-19 disease severity and therapeutic response.

Through the programme, the collaborators will develop an extensive COVID-19 sample severity-based biorepository and data registry from 3,000 UK COVID-19 patients, which will be utilised to support future commercial projects.

This biorepository and the NavigAID panel will be used to test, evaluate and optimise novel therapies to mitigate the effects of this disease, building upon Oncimmune’s existing bioresource and data assets.

Anticipating the immune response to novel therapeutics in patients with differing disease severity, as well as predicting potential side effects to these drugs, will be critical for optimising individual therapy and developing safe and effective vaccines. Oncimmune anticipates having an infectious disease NavigAID panel delivering results within two months of the commencement of the development phase and available to Academic Partners.

Alok Sharma, Business Secretary said: “Our scientists and researchers are at the forefront of global efforts to better understand COVID-19 and have been working tirelessly to identify new and innovative therapies that will save lives.

“By backing this pioneering project, we are ensuring that the best therapeutic approaches can be offered to the right patients at the right time.”

Dr Adam M Hill, CEO of Oncimmune said: "As the COVID-19 pandemic moves from the immediate challenge of developing novel diagnostics, we are now entering a phase where the world needs to better understand this disease in infected patients in order to optimise therapeutic outcomes. Oncimmune has been in discussion for some months now to utilise its differentiated technical knowledge to develop a comprehensive diagnostic tool capable of characterising the immune system’s response to COVID-19 and, as a consequence, being able to better predict patient symptom severity and treatment response. Together with MDC, this programme is now underway, and will shortly be ready to optimise the first wave of novel therapeutic approaches to preventing and treating this disease.”