£47 million announced for innovation in healthcare

9 April 2013

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Medical Research Council are to provide £47.2 million to UK businesses and universities, through their jointly managed Biomedical Catalyst programme.

The funding, announced by Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts, addresses the need for new and effective healthcare solutions for a growing and ageing UK population.

The awards are being made to 43 small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) and eight universities, as part of the £180 million Biomedical Catalyst programme. This is a key part of the Government’s Strategy for UK Life Sciences. The scheme supports the translation of an idea from concept to commercialisation and a number of the projects involve late-stage human trials of new healthcare solutions.

The total value of the projects in this second round, including private matched investment from the businesses, amounts to over £78 million.

Among the projects winning funding, the following have been awarded to UCLB projects and spinout companies:

  • Canbex Therapeutics Ltd – A £1.3m (project value of £1.9m) Late Stage Award will enable the first clinical studies of a novel drug for the treatment of spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients to be conducted by Canbex Therapeutics Ltd working in partnership with UCL and Queen Mary University London. The drug was originally discovered from research conducted at UCL and this project builds on work conducted with a Wellcome Trust Translational Award leveraging additional investment by UCLB.
  • Domainex Limited – a UK-based drug discovery company, has developed a number of chemical series with potent and selective activity against two closely-related kinases TBK1 and IKKepsilon. IL-17 mediated signaling is known to induce the expression of cytokines and other effectors that can cause a variety of immunological diseases such as psoriasis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  Domainex has recently obtained funding from the government-backed Biomedical Catalyst programme to explore the use of its inhibitors of IKKepsilon in COPD. In addition Domainex has also received a second BMC grant to investigate its inhibitors of a key epigenetic target called G9a involved in colorectal cancer in other similar related targets involved in other human cancers.
  • Professor Martin Birchall and colleagues at the UCL Ear Institute have been awarded £2.8m through the Biomedical Catalyst to allow them to carry out the world’s first clinical trial of a stem cell based voice box transplant. The ultimate goal is to produce a safe and effective therapy suitable for routine NHS use, resulting in improved quality of life for patients and carers.
  • Professor Robin Ali and colleagues at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology have been awarded £2.1m to conduct a clinical trial of a gene therapy for cone cells, to treat a severe visual disorder called achromatopsia. If successful, the trial could not only lead to an effective new treatment for this condition, but also pave the way for gene therapy as a treatment for a wide range of sight problems.

About UCLB
UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.

UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com

About Domainex
Domainex uses unique and proprietary technologies to resolve common bottlenecks facing the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries in the post-genomic era. Major discovery ‘gaps’ exist between the vast amount of genomic information that is now available, the  accessibility of the corresponding proteins for use in target validation and drug discovery, and the identification of robust hits in a cost effective manner. Founded in 2002, Domainex is a privately owned company based in Cambridge, UK.

For more information, see: www.domainex.co.uk

Canbex Therapeutics Ltd
Canbex Therapeutics Ltd is dedicated to developing new medications that improve the quality of life for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis and potentially other disorders, by addressing the need for better treatments for spasticity. Canbex Therapeutics is a capital efficient, single-asset, low-burn drug development vehicle that was founded as a joint investment collaboration with BBSF (Bloomsbury Bio-Seed Fund) and is privately owned. UCL Business provides business infrastructure and project support.

For more information, see: www.canbex.co.uk