LifeArc’s Seed Fund has invested £1.5 million in Ducentis BioTherapeutics to develop novel drug therapies for inflammatory and autoimmune disease
14 June 2019: LifeArc, a UK-based medical research charity, has made a £1.5 million investment in Ducentis BioTherapeutics from its Seed Fund to develop novel therapies for the treatment of autoimmune disease. These monies will fund pre-clinical studies with novel candidate molecules targeting the CD200/CD200R axis. This pathway plays a key role in restoring immune homeostasis and reducing exaggerated and unwanted immune responses mediated by myeloid lineage immune cells. The aim of these studies is to deliver candidate molecules ready for first-in-man clinical trials.
This move marks the first significant investment for the LifeArc Seed Fund—established to translate promising pre-clinical medical research into health benefits. The fund focuses on priority disease areas where patient need is greatest and there is a clear route to clinical proof of concept.
Dr David Holbrook, LifeArc’s Head of Seed Funds, said: “We are very excited to be working with Ducentis in helping to optimise this highly innovative approach to immune modulation to benefit patients.”
Dr Phillip Huxley, CEO, and Dr Rebecca Ashfield, CSO, formerly of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, commented: “We are delighted by LifeArc’s commitment to build on our work at Ducentis, and that of Professor David Blackbourn at the Universities of Glasgow and Birmingham. Ducentis will focus on progressing novel CD200 molecules into translational and clinical studies with patients suffering from autoimmune conditions with significant disease burden and poor standard of care.”
Jon Rees Associates provided Ducentis with investor relations expertise and was instrumental in orchestrating the current funding round.
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Notes to editors
LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be taken through to full development and made available to patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.
Our success allows us to explore new approaches to stimulate and fund translation. We have our own drug discovery and diagnostics development facilities, supported by experts in technology transfer and intellectual property who also provide services to other organisations.
Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. We are motivated by patient need and scientific opportunity.
Two funds help us to invest in external projects for the benefit of patients: our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on the translation of rare diseases research and our Seed Fund is aimed at start-up companies focussed on developing new therapeutics and biological modalities.
Ducentis is a pre-clinical stage company developing novel therapies for inflammation and autoimmune disease. Founded in 2015 Ducentis operates as a virtual company led by an experienced team combining drug discovery and development expertise and a successful track record identifying clinic ready molecules in multiple therapeutic areas.
Translational research in medicine is to go from “bench to bedside”. It covers the activities, expertise and processes required to turn lab-based research into new approaches that benefit human health and ideally provide economic returns. The aim is to develop new therapies, medical procedures, devices or diagnostics that can be used in humans.
The ability to translate UK R&D innovation into public and economic benefit for the UK was identified as a priority for the UK in the 2017 Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the Future.[i] There are a number of barriers to effective translation including a need for more access to skills and knowledge, funding needs, capacity of organisations to innovate and regulatory challenges.
[i] Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy: Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the Future, ( 2017) pp61-62.