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9 May, 2014 - 14:25 By News Desk

Life science companies bid for millions at Babraham showcase


Cambridge medical technology business Abcodia sought up to £5 million growth capital at the 2014 BioInvestment Forum at Babraham Research Campus, which attracted hopefuls from across the UK and Europe.

Abcodia – which set out its cash requirement as between £1.5m-£5m – is pioneering the development of new tests for the early diagnosis and screening of cancer.

The company has acquired the exclusive commercial rights to an innovative and well validated algorithm-based test for ovarian cancer screening (ROCA®) which will become the company’s first product.

It has also secured the exclusive commercial access to a 10 year pre-diagnosis collection of serum, derived from 200,000 women, and is now working with Cancer Research UK and other partners to generate a further pipeline of IP based around longitudinal profiles of biomarkers that change in line with the pre-diagnosis cancer lifecycle.

Babraham-based ABeterno Limited was pitching to investors for £750k. The company has developed IP in using intracellular proteins as the capture targets for isolation of viable whole cells, enabling their subsequent use in downstream applications.

It intends to use this to exploit a new commercial opportunity in the well established markets for cell separation and live cell imaging, reaching profitability within two years and generating substantial returns for investors within four-five years via a trade sale in a rapidly growing market sector.

University of Bradford spin-out Arterius Ltd went to BIF seeking £2.95m: 

The company plans to develop and introduce a range of biodegradable drug eluting coronary stents.

The unique properties of these stents are that once they have caused vessel remodelling and have been encapsulated in the vessel wall, they biodegrade after a period of 12 to 24 months.

The development of fully biodegradable stents that perform the necessary function of remodelling the arterial flow area and then disappear, could make a radical contribution to the priority of tackling a disease that is one of the greatest contributors to mortality in the UK and worldwide.

Another Babraham Campus tenant, DiagNodus Limited - pitched for £500-700K.

DiagNodus develops new diagnostic approaches in the area of colorectal disease and targets inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC).

Clinical endpoints comprise disease detection, monitoring, screening and therapy efficiency assessment. The company has successfully devised and clinically tested a new method for non-invasive colorectal sample collection and a family of biomarker-based diagnostic tests. 

DiagNodus is currently initiating the development of a point of care version of its test for IBD and prepares to start clinical trials targeting CRC.

London and Oxford company INDIGIX Limited - was bidding for £3m. INDIGIX is developing an oral drug to protect the gut wall from the damage caused by Antibiotic Associated Diarrhoea (AAD) and Clostridium difficile Associated Diarrhoea (CDAD).

Formed as an Imperial College spinout in 2010, it is now seeking to raise the equity funding to complete the pre-clinical development of INX201.

This is a first-in-class host targeted immuno-modulatory drug that protects the human gut wall from the IL-6 & IL-8 mediated damage caused by gut pathogens. INX201 can be co-administered with any antibiotic that is given for more than seven days and it will prevent AAD and CDAD.

Mantra medical company Mantra Bioscience Limited, from Sheffield – pitching for £370k – says that healthcare associated infections cost the UK around £1bn per year, despite years of investment.

Research shows that ubiquitous healthcare devices such as blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters are crucial causes of infection spread, but a reliance on manual cleaning has been totally ineffective.

Mantra Medical’s objective is to change that forever with what it believes are unique products that provide rapid and effective bedside decontamination of blood pressure cuffs and pulse oximeters without relying on manual cleaning. Mantra says it has received initial commercial interest from two large established medical companies.      

Austrian business Miti Biosystems, seeking £1.5m, is harnessing enzymes from nature to generate highly constrained peptides as therapeutics. Lead compounds hold the promise to combine the best of mAbs with traditional small molecules.

Miti's polycyclic peptides are called RiPPs (ribosomally synthesised post-translationally modified peptides) and are amenable to phage display and other diversity methods.

The unusual structure, stability, thermodynamically disfavoured bond tensions and novel binding mode of RiPPs open up novel chemical space, says Miti. “As many RiPPs have proven oral bioavailability and cell penetration characteristics in nature, we aim to tap this neglected source of drug-like compounds for Pharma & Biotech,” the company told investors at BIF.

Dutch company NovioSense BV sought £4m. NovioSense is a medical device company founded in 2012 with the aim to develop a new non-invasive glucose sensor for type 1 diabetics.

NovioSense says it has developed a unique platform technology to measure glucose levels in tear fluid in a non-invasive form factor. The glucose in tears have been shown to follow that of glucose in blood and be a clinically representative measure for treatment of diabetes type 1.  NovioSense have developed a pre-clinical laboratory device that can continuously monitor glucose levels in tears and are now seeking investment to continue development into clinical validation.

Cambridge Science Park company Opal Oncology Limited sought £600. The drug discovery business is focused on developing novel treatment approaches for an incurable brain cancer called Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), which affects 23,000 patients in the West and has orphan disease status with expedited review tracks at major global regulatory agencies such as the US FDA and EMA. 

London company Rare Biotech Limited pitched for £1.5m. The company is targeting rare diseases and the development of orphan drugs. It identifies, evaluates and develops technologies with therapeutic and commercial potential sourced from both academia and industry.

Development plans are matched with appropriate sources of funding to accelerate the progression of technologies through to the clinic. Rare Biotech operates a ‘virtual company model’ outsourcing R & D to maximise the impact of funding.

Also from London, Vasgen Limited asked investors for £3.5 million. Vasgen is developing a novel platform technology to deliver highly selective inhibitors of the metzincin superfamily of metalloproteinases.

By targeting antibodies to the enzyme’s catalytic centre, coined AbIMP® technology, Vasgen intends to overcome the historical problem of target non-selectivity and associated side-effects attributed to chemical inhibitors, offering new possibilities for drug discovery and therapy.

It says its pathfinding programme has developed the world’s first selective pharmacological inhibitor of ADAM15, a validated and previously intractable anti-angiogenesis and anti-tumour target, as a potential novel therapy to capture significant value in the ophthalmology and cancer markets.

Lancaster-based Veraz, seeking £2.6m, has developed novel workflow management and process quality assurance products and techniques. By first quarter 2015 it aims to be delivering a revolutionary suite of products that protect patients from poor or absent health care.

These products rely on our patented sensor technology which detects what/who/where/when people touch. In a clinical trial it monitored staff compliance to their hand hygiene obligations.

It measured compliance rates averaging 20 per cent of those being reported. When it provided instant feedback compliance rates rose by 300 per cent. “This year we are also adding to the list of care procedures that the products will support, for example, patient repositioning,” it told BIF investors.

As well as hearing elevator pitches from early stage companies seeking funding from £250K- £5m, attendees visited a poster board exhibition, enjoyed an 'On the Sofa' session with serial life sciences investor Andy Richards, networked extensively, and had the benefit of insight on key issues in the industry from Abcam CEO Jonathan Milner, who is now backing a new generation of young biotech businesses, such as Axol Bioscience.

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