UKI2S portfolio update: New investments in Linear Diagnostics & Nemesis Bioscience + significant advancements for Quethera & Cytox
UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund is a pioneer in supporting early-stage British companies to develop and commercialize key technological advances. As a ‘patient investor,’ we validate, invest and mentor ventures as they aim to solve real-world problems, namely addressing global health concerns. We are happy to showcase a number of key announcements made in May 2017, including two new investments and significant advancements from our existing portfolio.
NEW INVESTMENTS AIMED TO COUNTER ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE (AMR)
UKI2S’ two newest investments, Linear Diagnostics and Nemesis Bioscience develop world-class technology aiming to mitigating the alarmingly increasing spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antimicrobial resistance, an ability of microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites to adapt to the use of antibiotics, is an expanding global threat accounting for 700,000 deaths annually (Food Standards Agency). As a result of AMR, medicines are becoming ineffective as a treatment and widely adopted treatments of infectious diseases may be undermined.
The University of Birmingham spinout is developing a suite of rapid diagnostics tests using technology based on a novel application of a technique called linear dichroism, which uses polarized light to measure the alignment of detector molecules. The investment will enable Linear Diagnostics to develop its platform technology into a handheld device that can rapidly detect the presence of bacterial infection and simultaneously identify the risk of resistance to the most commonly prescribed antibiotics, without the need for laboratory facilities. The device will provide a readout within minutes of sampling. The first application of the product will be used to detect Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) while the device will be able to detect the presence of bacterial infection and identify the AMR risk to antibiotics outside of laboratory facilities.
In May, biopharmaceutical company Nemesis Bioscience announced commencement of its preclinical programmes and the successful completion of its latest funding round, bringing total seed funds raised to more than £700,000. The round was led by UKI2S who co-invested alongside Finance Wales and Dr Mark McCamish (full press announcement). This funding will be used to validate a suite of technologies in vivo, including the reversal of antibiotic resistance and Nemesis Transmids© for clinical, veterinary and industrial delivery.
Nemesis’ innovative solution aims to fight AMR and retain ability of the antibiotic treatment in a long term. Instead of focusing on killing the bacteria, their technology inactivates resistance mechanism using an agent and enable the antibiotics to kill the bacteria.
ADVANCEMENTS IN COMBATING GLAUCOMA & ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE TREATMENT
In May 2017, Quethera, a gene therapy company in the field of ocular disorder treatments, successfully presented its gene therapy QTA020V efficacy results at 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) conference. The ocular disorder glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness and is estimated to affect upwards of 80 million people in 2020. Quethera’s results show a 61% reduction in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) loss in a widely-used experimental model of glaucoma. The data offers hope of a potential therapy for the large number of glaucoma patients for whom the risk of blindness is very real despite undergoing today’s conventional treatments.
UKI2S portfolio company Cytox, founded in 2004 to commercialize technology developed at the University of Oxford, announced in May its plans to make a molecular test for the early-stage diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease available in the US by year end.
Cytox’s Alzheimer’s test can determine if an individual is positive or negative for beta-amyloid, the protein linked to the deadly neurodegenerative disease. Due to its high potential in detecting early-stage dementia, Cytox is in a discussion with a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that could use the test complementing their drug development programs.