A UK startup spun out from Oxford University in 2016 currently working on a universal flu vaccine is being backed by Google parent company Alphabet.

Vaccitech has raised £20 million in Series A financing in a round co-led by new investors GV (formerly Google Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of Alphabet) and Sequoia China, as well as existing backer Oxford Sciences Innovation.

The group has now raised £30 million since its inception in 2016 to help progress its pipeline, which contains six products based on inducing cellular immune responses using non-replicating viral vectors for treatment or prophylaxis against diseases at various stages.

Vaccitech’s flagship asset is a universal influenza vaccine, currently being assessed in a Phase IIb efficacy trial, which the firm says recognises the conserved proteins of the virus and is active against all influenza A strains, including avian ones.

Further back in Phase I is an experimental prostate cancer therapeutic which has shown high level immune T cell responses to the self-antigen 5T4, “indicating strong potential applicability of the vaccine platform to cancer in general”.

From its base at the Oxford Science Park, Vaccitech intends to use the funding to expand its business, develop its lab structure, and push its influenza and prostate cancer programmes through Phase II by the end of 2019, as well as move three other programmes into the clinic.

“Vaccitech’s world class team have achieved an incredible amount with relatively little funding to date – the T-cell responses to the company’s viral vector platform are among the highest that have been achieved in man – we look forward to it being applied to tackle multiple human diseases,” noted Tom Hulme, general partner at GV, outlining his interest in the firm.