The financial backing comes from the UK Research and Innovation Ideas to Address COVID-19 programme.
It will support a collaboration between Oncimmune and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) to deliver a project called IMPACTT, which stands for Immunity Profiling of Patients with COVID-19 for Therapy and Triage.
Researchers will collect samples and clinical data from 3,000 patients to be studied by Oncimmune to develop and validate an infectious disease NavigAID panel of biomarkers that can then be used in the research.
The tool will be designed to predict both likely patient response to the virus and the potential effectiveness of vaccines and treatments.
Oncimmune will place patients into three categories of response to the virus: mild, moderate and severe.
It will then use this data to develop, refine and validate its NavigAID panel, which can then be deployed to predict COVID-19 disease severity and therapeutic response.
As the company pointed out, there are more than 1,200 drugs being developed for the virus and its symptoms, including over 200 vaccines.
So, anticipating the immune response to these treatments in people with differing disease severity, as well as predicting potential side-effects, will be critical in developing optimised, safe and effective therapeutics.
Oncimmune said it anticipates having an infectious disease NavigAID panel delivering results within two months of the start of the development phase.
Within six months, it said it expected to be in a position to support commercial projects for its customers in the drug development sphere. It added that “a number of discussions” are already underway with would-be commercial partners.
“Oncimmune has been in discussion for some months now to utilise its differentiated technical knowledge to develop a comprehensive diagnostic tool capable of characterising the immune system's response to COVID-19 and, as a consequence, being able to better predict patient symptom severity and treatment response,” Oncimmune chief executive Adam Hill said in a statement.
“Together with MDC, this programme is now underway, and will shortly be ready to optimise the first wave of novel therapeutic approaches to preventing and treating this disease.”