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24 April, 2014 - 17:07 By Tony Quested

Parked therapies taken into overdrive


A Cambridge UK startup is aiming to take medical technology parked by biopharmaceutical companies, shake off the dust and recycle it into new drugs and therapies.

Healx3, founded by Cambridge and Oxford University alumni, is already in talks on potential partnerships with a couple of the largest biopharma companies on the planet.

The founders bring together their expertise in biopharma and computer science to create a strong team needed for this enterprise.

They have been advised behind the scenes by serial science & technology entrepreneurs in Cambridge, as well as Intellectual Property specialists to ensure Healx3 gets the tech transfer model right.

Belgian CEO Tim Guilliams, who holds a PhD in Molecular Neuroscience from Cambridge, is convinced that the world of biopharma is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of therapeutic treasure – and that Healx3 has found the genie in the lamp to unlock it.

He says: “Around 90 per cent of drug development projects never make it to market – leaving a vast amount of parked bio-assets on company benches.

“Some of these assets still have therapeutic potential, but do not cure patients or generate revenue. Healx3 is specialising in the upcycle and out-licensing of parked therapeutics and dormant IP in the biopharmaceutical industry.

“By enabling companies to generate new revenue streams and promote collaborative innovation within the industry, our activities will help deliver the next generation of therapeutics to patients in need.”

Healx3 is currently self-funded, although the intention is to eventually seek angel support once strategic partnerships have been forged and sufficient opportunities for tech transfer identified.

The business aims to launch a pilot with around 10 assets, where technology is parked, and then push for seed capital around September time. The business is currently based at ideaSpace and has recently been selected to join both the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst Mentoring Scheme and the Accelerate Cambridge programme.

Guilliams, who has also spent time on secondment to the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, estimates that more than 500 therapeutics are parked by biopharma every year and that there could be 2,000 first-in-class therapeutics parked on company benches – increasing at a rate of 200 per annum.

The market for orphan drug diseases could be as much as £100 million per drug so the opportunity is prime, he believes.

“These are drugs and therapies that are not reaching potential patients so represent solutions to disease areas where there is large, currently unmet, need if we can unlock these assets,” Guilliams said.

“We are offering an holistic management solution for these parked assets and a means to unlock a massive resource. We have been conscious of the need to get the business proposition right well ahead of hitting the market and to that end are progressing well with talks involving potential partners.

“Our service will include assessment of the IP, bioinformatics analysis, assessing the reformulation potential, repositioning therapies or seeking fresh indications, licensing and dealmaking; and online we will handle data collection, data packaging and data transfer – so it is a comprehensive offering.

“We understand the problem faced by biopharmaceutical companies in optimising so many opportunities at any given time. It might appear inefficient but we appreciate that there is often a lack of resources or that a lack of priority is given to parked assets.

“In many instances there is also a huge bias towards in-licensing within biopharma. We are offering a genuine route to open innovation across the industry – that is not only good news for frustrated biopharma companies that are missing out on potential milestones and royalties, but also for thousands of patients suffering from a wide range of diseases.”

Netherlands born co-founder Ajoeb Baridi, who is chief marketing officer, is finalising his PhD in Cancer Stem Cells from Cancer Research UK, Cambridge Institute and won the Bio Young Entrepreneurs Scheme, UK Finals 2013.

A third co-founder, working with a world-leading technology business, is currently in stealth but will be key to the digital elements of the venture as it unfolds.

Baridi said: “We believe we have a strong proposition in a niche area. The founding team’s strong roots and network in Cambridge and Oxford, where major developments in the pharma and big data emerge, their proven track-record to start, lead and finalise ventures/initiatives, in addition to the highly experienced advisory board of seasoned experts in the drug development and bio-incubator field, give this motivated team all the tools needed to make Healx3 a successful start-up and potential future leader in the drug-repositioning sector.”

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