SME Engagement: Immbio Case Study

6 January 2012

ImmBio2

 ImmunoBiology Ltd (ImmBio) is a Cambridge-based SME company, working to develop novel anti-infective vaccines addressing areas of high unmet need. The company’s pipeline is based on two distinct technology platforms. The first, ImmBioVax™, replicates the innate stage of the immune response to safely create protection and contains antigens, heat shock proteins and antigenic proteins complexed to heat shock proteins. The second, ImmunoBodies™, consists of an antibody Fc-antigen fusion protein approach. Both technology platforms target antigen delivery to the dendritic cells of the immune system, which play a critical role in generating the immune responses necessary for successful protection against infectious agents. Rapid development of cost-effective, viable production processes is critical for the success of a biotechnology development organisation and particularly so for vaccine production. This need drove ImmBio’s initial collaboration with the ACBE, a joint Technology-Strategy-Board-funded project (Manufacture of low cost, high-efficacy vaccines) with Professor Mike Hoare. This project uses ACBE ultra scale-down (USD) approaches to predict process at scale for future ImmunoBody vaccines. The collaboration provided ImmBio with an introduction to the broad range of ACBE courses and collaborative opportunities open to Biotech Companies.

ImmBio’s management recognised the value of MBI® training modules to develop colleagues within the organisation. ImmBio’s Head of Laboratory, Claire Entwisle, now uses the MBI® scheme to provide essential training not possible at ImmBio. These training opportunities have to deliver real benefits to the organisation and must be cost-effective. This has already proven to be the case for Dr Kate Dalton, a senior ImmBio scientist, who has attended several MBI® modules. We then expanded our collaboration with the ACBE to include an EngD student, Eduardo Lau. This studentship strengthened links between ImmBio and the ACBE, particularly for Dr Ann McIlgorm, a senior scientist at ImmBio, and has already proved valuable as we develop new fusion protein production processes. The industry focus provided by the EngD training programme and the quality of students recruited provided ImmBio with a colleague who rapidly made significant positive impacts to the company. We have also taken an active role in the Industrial Training Advisory Board (ITAB), helping to ensure that the training delivered to students closely matches the present and future needs of Companies such as ours.

The breadth of contacts and depth of experience available to a company through the industrial network established by ACBE can prove invaluable. In one example, ImmBio identified an organisation, Novasep Process, and entered discussions to provide GMP production through an initial contact made at a recent ITAB meeting. Benefits have not been limited to technical developments; we have used the Vision programme to increase our knowledge of new business approaches and to provide access to ‘in-job’ development on topics such as IP and Alliance management. Individual collaborations and courses have proven to be beneficial to ImmBio and the presence of in house experts at the ACBE, such as Dr Tarit Mukhopadhyay, has proved of value to our business. However, it is the synergy generated through the diverse range of interactions and courses from TSB grant, EngD studentship, MBI® and Vision programmes that has proved to be most valuable to us.

For further information about opportunities to collaborate with UCL and the range of training courses available, please email Dr Karen Smith (karen.smith@ucl.ac.uk). For further information about ImmBio please contact Dr Shaun McNulty, shaun.mcnulty@immbio.com, telephone: 01223 496122, or Graham Clarke (CEO), graham.clarke@immbio.com, telephone 01223 496117. If you would like further details about EngD opportunities, the MBI® or Vision programmes please contact Dr Karen Smith at karen.smith@ucl.ac.uk  in the first instance.

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