British Unicorn Gets $40M Boost from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have injected $40M (€33M) into Immunocore to accelerate the development of its immunotherapies for infectious diseases.

Investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will support the development of Immunocore’s ImmTAV and ImmTAB TCR-based technologies, which help the immune system to target virally and bacterially infected cells, respectively. In particular, the collaboration will target HIV and tuberculosis, with Immunocore looking to branch out from the field of immuno-oncology.

So far, pre-clinical data have shown the potential of Immunocore’s ImmTAV molecules to redirect the immune system and kill HIV-infected cells in individuals pre-treated with antiretrovirals. In a similar fashion to their immuno-oncology treatments, small protein molecules recognize intracellular antigens commonly associated with an infection on the surface of cells. The proteins then bind and activate T cells that kill infected cells.

Each year, there are 1.8 million and 10.4 million new cases of HIV and tuberculosis, respectively, and the two diseases cause 1 million and 1.8 million deaths. It is clear from the burden that these two diseases have that new treatments are needed. ImmTAB is up against a number of biotechs that are desperate to beat growing antibiotic resistance, for example, Basilea, AiCuris and Summit Therapeutics. ImmTAV faces competition from a number of innovative HIV therapies in Europe’s pipeline. We will see if this extra investment will put Immunocore ahead of the rest.


Image – Marina Linchevska / shutterstock.com

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