12/09/2022 – Antwerp, Belgium
The Belgian university spin-off received a development grant totalling to € 130.000 to further develop their VaccineWatch platform. The company specialises in monitoring and predicting immune responses using artificial intelligence. VLAIO’s support is used to make this technology available to vaccine developers.
In recent years, we are seeing a rising interest in monitoring of T cell responses. T cells are a specialised set of immune cells that are highly efficient in targeting pathogens like viruses, bacteria and tumour cells. They play a crucial role in establishing immunological memory, which is the ability of the immune system to quickly recognise a pathogen that the body has previously encountered and then subsequently eliminate it.
“At ImmuneWatch we have learned that a lot of valuable information is stored in an individual’s collection of T cells.” says Pieter Meysman, CTO of the startup company that spun out of the University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital (Belgium). “We have seen that it can inform us about a person’s immunological history (what infections and vaccines did this individual encounter in the past?), monitor immune responses after vaccination (Do we see specific T cells in response to the vaccine?) and predict future immune responses (how effective will this novel vaccine be for this individual or population?)”. To be able to extract these insights from the data, one needs specialised computer algorithms and data analysis techniques. This is where ImmuneWatch specialises in.
With the help of this VLAIO grant, the algorithms will now be tailored to help vaccine developers improve their vaccine design and perform in-depth monitoring of the immune response to a candidate vaccine. “We see a lot of applications for our algorithms, but we decided to first venture into vaccinology, a field where we see many opportunities.” explains Sander Wuyts, CEO. “This development project is crucial to help us adapt our algorithms to the needs of vaccine developers. As a result of the project we will be able to better assist them in their preclinical development phase, by predicting theT cell response for given vaccine candidates, but also during their clinical trials in which our technology can be used to perform epitope-specific monitoring of T cell responses to their vaccines.”
“We are thankful to VLAIO for giving us this opportunity. This support is extremely helpful in the early stages of our company to accelerate the development of our unique platform. As we have already made quite some progress, ImmuneWatch is open to establish partnerships with vaccine developers in the context of our early access program”. Sander concludes.
ImmuneWatch is an AI-research company that specialises in monitoring and prediction of immune responses based on T cell repertoire data. They use their technology to accelerate the development of T-cell based diagnostic tools and therapies. As a spin-off of the University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital, the company builds on years of academic excellence in the field of immuno-informatics.
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Sander Wuyts, CEO