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1 December, 2016 - 12:12 By Tony Quested

New Multiple Sclerosis treatment wins £1m funding

Cambridge-based LIFNano Therapeutics has created a possible new treatment for multiple sclerosis – and potentially other disease areas – and been awarded £1 million funding by Innovate UK.

Its LIFNanoRx solution promises a new generation of treatments for currently untreatable diseases using simple and clean technology.

Founded by Dr Su Metcalfe (pictured) in 2013 as a spin-out from the University of Cambridge, the LIFNanoRx product exploits the body’s own repair pathways by precise targeting of LIF to the treatment site.

Moreover, since the LIF nanoparticles can be manufactured in bulk and stored until required, global access to therapy becomes possible, in marked contrast to to the relatively expensive, globally restricted and specialised cell-based therapies currently being developed to treat MS.

LIFNanoRx is designed to protect the brain. Using tiny soluble nanoparticles, LIF is slowly released precisely where it is needed. The released LIF then taps into the body’s own mechanisms for brain repair, with the potential not only to prevent disease progression but also to enhance current treatments of MS.

LIFNano’s Intellectual Property portfolio comprises five patent families covering formulations and methods of use for LIF nanoparticles. The company's filing strategy has preserved substantial scope for further broadening of method claims to encompass other therapeutic uses and extend patent life.

The new funding will support the team as LIFNanoRx moves into clinical development, with the first clinical trial in humans planned to start in 2020-21 at London Blizard Institute.

That’s a critical next step for the company which is supported at Cambridge Judge Business School through both the Entrepreneurship Centre’s Accelerate Cambridge programme and by Cambridge Social Ventures, part of the Centre for Social Innovation.

Founder of LIFNano Therapeutics and full time CSO, Su Metcalfe received her PhD in Pathology at the University of Cambridge where she continued as principle investigator, latterly moving to the university's Clinical School researching into immune tolerance.

Visiting Fellowships and close collaborations include Stanford, Harvard, and Yale in addition to links with Astellas, Novartis, and Merck Serono.
Dr Metcalfe said: “This grant through Innovate UK will underpin clinical trial development, where our long-term aim is to treat MS on a global scale. 

“I also want to extend thanks to Cambridge Judge Business School for its support during this critical period in our development. The access to business leaders and insight gained through Accelerate Cambridge has increased my confidence working within the commercial world.

“We are gaining respect as an established commercial enterprise able to help patients whilst also engaging with Big Pharma to meet global needs.”

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