Anti-baldness treatment gearing up for mass-production
The DTI has granted Cambridge’s Intercytex £1.85 million to enable it to take its innovative hair regeneration therapy into full-scale mass production in conjunction with Royston-based The Automation Partnership (TAP).The grant will primarily be used to develop a dedicated robotic system to support the commercial-scale production of dermal papilla (DP) cells, the main cells involved in hair regeneration and the key component of Intercytex’s ICX-TRC treatment.
Nick Higgins, chief executive officer of Intercytex, said: “ICX-TRC is currently in Phase II clinical testing and this project should ensure we are in a position to produce cells to treat large numbers of people, both in our later stage clinical trials and when ICX-TRC is launched.
“The large-scale production of ICX-TRC will be key to its commercial success and this collaboration will support our scale-up work.”
The Intercytex approach centres on extracting an individual’s DP cells from a small hair follicle biopsy at the back of the head, multiplying the cells in a proprietary aseptic culture system and then re-implanting the cells back in the head to induce new hairs. It is vital that each patient’s cells remain isolated throughout the multiplication process.
The robotic system developed by TAP has a track record in processing many different cell samples simultaneously in the context of high throughput drug screening for many of the world’s top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
The DTI grant will be used to adapt this proven technology to produce autologous – sourced from and returned to the same individual – human cells in a reliable, efficient way and at a scale that can handle a large number of people.
The grant was awarded as part of the Technology Programme’s Autumn 2005 Competition for Funding, which provided a £12.6m pool for collaboration in Regenerative Medicine Technologies.
Intercytex is a leading cell therapy company developing products to restore and regenerate skin and hair and The Automation Partnership is a private company specialising in the automation of life science processes.
Intercytex raised £13.7m when it listed on London’s AIM market in February this year, seven months after it raised £7.9m in a private financing round.
As well as ICX-TRC, the company has two products in clinical development and another in pre-clinical studies. These are:
• ICX-PRO, the lead product for the treatment of leg ulcers, currently in a multi-centre Phase III trial in the US, UK and Canada and expected to be completed in the first half of 2007. The results of the Phase II trial indicated good efficacy and beneficial performance characteristics;
• ICX-RHY, for the treatment of wrinkles, is expected to commence a Phase II trial this year;
• ICX-SKN, in development as a living skin substitute, is expected to commence a Phase I trial before the end of the year.
It was incorporated in 2000, employs around 65 staff and also has offices in Manchester and Boston, USA. It has raised £43.55m since its original seed funding of £1.4m, invested by Avlar BioVentures and Johnson & Johnson Development.
Other existing investors include Merlin Biosciences, Cambridge Gateway, 3i, Temasek V Sciences Investments, NIF Ventures and Scottish Equity Partners.