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18 April, 2018 - 10:13 By Tony Quested

Bicycle Therapeutics and Abzena fill Imperial ThinkSpace

Imperial College ThinkSpace has welcomed two companies, Abzena plc and Bicycle Therapeutics, into its new 49,500 sq ft building (Building 900) at the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge.

ThinkSpace is responsible for the co-location of companies with world-leading research groups and universities. 

This new facility complements Imperial Colleges’ existing London facilities, including its new research and innovation district in White City.

CEO Dr Eulian Roberts said: “We are delighted that two such innovative research-led companies have chosen to locate with us in the Imperial ThinkSpace Building and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

Abzena has consolidated all its UK operations, including the head office functions, biology and chemistry research services groups from its two current buildings on the Babraham Research Campus, into the purpose-built facility.

Abzena provides proprietary technologies and complementary services to organisations involved in the development of biopharmaceutical products to support the development and manufacture of better treatments for patients.
 
Multiple antibodies which have been created using Abzena’s technologies (ABZENA inside products) are currently being progressed through clinical development.

Abzena was created through the incorporation of Antitope, PacificGMP, The Chemistry Research Solution (TCRS) and PolyTherics, all of which now trade as Abzena. The latter, PolyTherics, was established in 2001 with intellectual property from Imperial College London and received support and investment from Imperial Innovations. 

It has since built a global customer base including the majority of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies as well as large and small biotech companies and academic groups.

John Burt, CEO of Abzena, said: “The new facilities in Cambridge will greatly enhance Abzena’s operations. The combination of state-of-the-art facilities and leading technologies will enable the group to support its international customers as they progress their drug development programmes from research into clinical trials.”

Bicycle Therapeutics now has its UK headquarters in the ThinkSpace building. The company is pioneering the development of bicyclic peptides, or Bicycles® — a new class of versatile, chemically synthesised medicines, into transformative medicines for life-altering diseases. 

Bicycles address therapeutic needs unreachable by other means and their small size and tumour targeting deliver rapid tumour penetration and retention with minimum exposure to healthy tissue and toxicities.

In February, Cancer Research UK and Bicycle Therapeutics announced that the first clinical trial using a bicyclic peptide has commenced for patients with advanced solid tumours.

Whilst Bicycle’s internal focus is in oncology, the company was recently awarded a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to apply Bicycle technology to develop the next generation of novel antibiotics.

Bicycle’s chief operating officer, Dr Michael Skynner and Dr Paul Beswick, its director of UK Chemistry & IP, both earned their PhDs at Imperial College and Dr Gillian Langford, VP of clinical and project management, is a graduate of Imperial College.

Dr Skynner said: “We are thrilled to have moved to this world-class facility, which provides an ideal headquarters for Bicycle as we grow our team and work to translate our technology into life-changing medicines for patients with cancer and other serious diseases.”

The Babraham Research Campus is considered to be one of the UK’s leading campuses to support early-stage bioscience enterprise and is distinct in its co-location of bioscience companies with the Babraham Institute. 

Derek Jones, chief executive of the Babraham Research Campus said: “The decisions by Abzena and Bicycle Therapeutics to remain on the campus, within this fantastic new building, allows them to continue to benefit from the wider campus community and access the capabilities available on site, including the co-location with world leading research in the Babraham Institute.”

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