LONDON - Start-up company Immunobiology Ltd. raised #600,000 (US$874,000) in seed funding to develop heat-shock protein complex-mediated vaccines in infectious diseases and cancer.

Founder and CEO Camilo Colaco told BioWorld International, "The funding will last 18 months, allowing us to reach proof of principle in 12 months. We will then be looking for first-round funding of #5 to #7 million to move into Phase I/II."

Immunobiology, of Cambridge, UK, initially will concentrate on infectious diseases, including hepatitis and tuberculosis.

Colaco has discovered a family of heat-shock proteins (HSPs) that integrate the two phases of the immune response: the initial innate and general response typified by inflammation, and the secondary adaptive response in which the T and B lymphocytes produce pathogen-specific antibodies.

HSPs produced in the innate phase are complexed with pathogen-specific antigens. These antigens are then captured by antigen-presenting cells that activate the T and B lymphocytes to produce antibodies.

Immunobiology will take advantage of the normal cellular functioning of HSPs, using HSPs from pathogens carrying multiple antigens, to induce immunity.

Colaco said he has achieved preliminary proof of principle in bacterial and viral disease models, which suggests the approach should be applicable to most infectious diseases.

"Now that we have funding we can move on to identify and characterize HSP conjugates as potential vaccine candidates, and demonstrate the efficacy of the immunovaccination approach in two animal models," he said.

Colaco, formerly director of intellectual property at the drug delivery company Quadrant Healthcare plc, said he is also looking for partners.