An alumnus's goal: Cancer vaccines

Marcelo Bravo, alumnus of our MSc in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics, is the new Chief Executive Officer at OxVax – a company which aims to deliver vaccines capable of targeting cancer. 

OxVax, a spinout from Oxford University, is a new immuno-oncology firm based on Oxford research. The company was created to deliver vaccines capable of targeting various forms of cancer. 

Harnessing cells to target tumours

Work focuses on developing an off-the-shelf, next-generation vaccine platform based on a unique proprietary population of dendritic cells capable of inducing a potent anti-tumour immune response. (Dendritic cells function to process antigen material and present it on the cell surface to cells of the immune system – thus acting as messengers between the innate and the adaptive immune systems.) 

The company’s technology allows the bulk manufacture of these dendritic cells from stem cells derived from donor’s blood. When combined with tumour-associated antigens, OxVax will be able to create a bespoke vaccine which can train the body to target and eliminate tumours.  

The company’s research is based on the work of Professor Paul J Fairchild and Tim Davies from the Fairchild Laboratory at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology at Oxford University. Marcelo Bravo, the company’s Chief Executive Officer, is an entrepreneur who has taken two companies public and has worked with the academic founders as part of his MSc in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics. 

Professor Paul J Fairchild, Associate Professor of the Immunobiology of Stem Cells at Oxford, said, ‘Our research has shown how stem cells can be used to create potentially unlimited numbers of a rare cell type of the immune system responsible for orchestrating the immune response to solid tumours. We believe that access to these cells can open the field of cancer vaccination and transform the treatment of some of the most intractable cancers.'

Marcelo Bravo added, ‘Our platform enables the manufacture at scale of an off-the-shelf highly potent vaccine which addresses the major limitations that have frustrated cancer vaccine development in the past. Our immediate focus will be the definition of the quality profile of the product and the industrialisation of the manufacturing protocol which will put us in a strong position to proceed towards the clinic.’ 

Read more about Oxvax on the Oxford Innocation website 

Learn about our MSc in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics 

Published 13 May 2021