Spinout News

UCL biopharmaceutical spin-out, Domainex, secures £1million

30 September 2008

Domainex Ltd. (“Domainex”), an innovative biopharmaceutical company supported and marketed by UCL Business and spun-out from University College London, in collaboration with Birkbeck College University of London and the Institute of Cancer Research, today announced that it has raised £1 million.

The funding came from Longbow Capital LLP, which specializes in healthcare and technology investments, and The Capital Fund, the £50 million regional venture capital fund for London. Longbow invested £790,000, bringing their total invested in the Company to £1.15m, and The Capital Fund invested £250,000.

Headquartered in London, Domainex is a contract research company specialising in the provision of structural biology and chemistry services to major pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. The Company is also developing a pipeline of pre-clinical drugs and targets.

The vast amount of information available in the post-genomic era means that many highly attractive protein targets are now known to the pharmaceutical industry but lack of protein prevents their use in drug discovery. Domainex has closed this ‘discovery gap’ with its unique Combinatorial Domain Hunting (“CDH”) technology which enables the cloning and expression of proteins, or parts of proteins (domains), from challenging molecular targets. The proteins are then screened to select soluble, stable protein domains that are ideal reagents for use in drug discovery programmes.
Domainex has already used its CDH protein expression platform to successfully tackle a series of difficult target proteins and has fulfilled commercial contracts with a number of major pharmaceutical companies, such as leading global firm, UCB.

Domainex also provides comprehensive chemistry services to biotech and pharmaceutical firms involved in drug discovery through its subsidiary NCE Discovery (another UCL subsidiary which was merged with Domainex in 2007) , with laboratories on the Cambridge Science Park, and is managed by Research Director, Dr Trevor Perrior, a highly experienced scientist who has been responsible for the discovery of several medicines.

The Company plans to use the new funding to develop its CDH technology and NCE Discovery chemistry services businesses. It will also seek to commercialise its drug discovery projects by forging alliances with pharmaceutical partners to develop novel drugs and by early out-licensing of key discoveries such as X-ray structures.

Dr Eddy Littler, Chief Executive Officer of Domainex, said: “We are delighted to have attracted this investment, particularly in a challenging fundraising environment. Our objective now is to realize the full value of our unique biology and build a portfolio of targets that we will out-license to clients – at an early stage, in the case of key reagents and X-ray crystal structures, and at a later stage with our associated lead series of inhibitors.”

Domainex’s portfolio will have an initial focus on targets for cancer treatments and the Company has started to discuss these targets with pharmaceutical companies with a view to future out-licensing.

Commenting on the fundraising, Dr Littler added: “We have worked closely with Edward Rudd and the Longbow team since their initial investment and it is a great endorsement to have them re-investing on this round. We also welcome The Capital Fund on board as new investors – Ian Cameron has been very supportive of our plans as we move into our next stage of development.”

Edward Rudd, Co-founder and Partner at Longbow Capital, said: “The combination of unique CDH technology and its NCE Discovery chemistry expertise gives Domainex a strong competitive advantage and this is further supplemented by the Company’s highly skilled management team. We are delighted with the progress achieved by Eddy Littler and his team and pleased to support Domainex with the additional funding needed to expand the contract services business and progress commercialization of the drug discovery projects.”

Ian Cameron, Investment Director at The Capital Fund, said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to invest in Domainex. The application of the Company’s CDH platform and strengths in medicinal chemistry could play a key role in reducing drug discovery timelines.”

Cengiz Tarhan, Managing Director of UCL Business, commented, “Following our integration of NCE Discovery Limited into Domainex in 2007 and the strategic investment from Longbow and The Capital Fund, Domainex is very well positioned to move from strength to strength. We wish Dr Littler and his team every success as they enter this new phase of their growth.”

About Domainex Ltd
Founded in 2002, Domainex is a spin-out company from University College London, Birkbeck College London and the Institute of Cancer Research that specializes in the provision of combinatorial domain hunting and medicinal chemistry services to large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and is also developing a pipeline of pre-clinical drugs and targets. Domainex generates protein domains from challenging molecular targets using a patented technology known as Combinatorial Domain Hunting (CDH) so that they may be expressed in a form suitable for use in drug discovery programmes. The CDH technology is based on research conducted by Professor Paul Driscoll, Professor Laurence Pearl, Dr Chris Prodromou and Dr Renos Savva, at the Institute for Cancer Research, University College and Birkbeck College, University of London.

For more information: http://www.domainex.co.uk

About Longbow Capital LLP
Longbow Capital was established in 2004 to bring to early stage unquoted companies the skills and capital required in order to generate significant returns for investors over a three to five year period.
The partners of Longbow include individuals with a range of experience that has enabled them to build and operate successful private companies for the mutual benefit of investors and management. For its investors, Longbow identifies investment opportunities with the potential for considerable and sustainable growth. This class of investment can also offer private investors income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax reliefs. Longbow’s primary objective is to deliver substantial returns for its investors.
Longbow has offices in the City of London and central Edinburgh, is regulated by the FSA and is a member of the British Venture Capital Association.

For more information: www.longbow.co.uk

About The Capital Fund
Launched in 2002, The Capital Fund is a £50 million venture capital fund that backs fast-growing, small and medium-sized enterprises in Greater London. To date, the Fund has made over 55 investments in London-based companies.

Initial investments can be up to £250,000 and the Fund can invest a further £250,000 after six months or more. In some circumstances, alongside other new investors, the Fund can follow on its investments with up to £5 million in total in a single company. The Capital Fund is the largest of the nine Regional Venture Capital Funds and has a mixture of public and private sector investors.

For more information: www.thecapitalfund.co.uk

The Capital Fund is managed by YFM Venture Finance Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and part of the YFM Group. The YFM Group provides investment capital and business development services to SMEs throughout the UK. It currently has over £280 million in funds under management, with over 90 employees.

For more information: www.yfmgroup.co.uk