Venture that fights Multiple Sclerosis through ‘NanoMedicine’, supported by Cambridge Judge Business School, gets £1 million new funding.
LIFNanoRx, a venture supported by Cambridge Judge that fights Multiple Sclerosis (MS), will receive £1 million to support its pioneering global solution to treat MS.
Of the £1 million, more than £828,000 will be through the government’s Innovate UK BioMedical Catalyst Competition awarded to LIFNanoRx – which has brought together a project team that includes Pharmidex; the University of London’s Blizard Institute – a world-renowned centre for treatment of MS; and the Government’s Centre for Process Innovation.
Dr Su Metcalfe
LIFNanoRx was founded in May 2013 by Dr Su Metcalfe at the University of Cambridge’s Clinical School, where she had discovered the value of a small protein called Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor (LIF) to treat MS. She went on to invent a simple nano-engineered form of LIF (LIFNano) designed to target disease in MS patients.
The new £1 million funding will support the team as LIFNanoRx moves into clinical development, with the first clinical trial in humans planned to start in 2020-21 at the Blizard Institute.
That’s a critical next step for the Cambridge-based company, which is supported at Cambridge Judge through both the Entrepreneurship Centre’s Accelerate Cambridge programme, and by Cambridge Social Ventures, part of the Centre for Social Innovation.
The grant “is evidence of the UK government’s recognition of NanoMedicine” and recognises LIFNanoRx “as a strong commercial enterprise with the ability to bring our innovative therapy to treat MS on a global scale,” LIFNanoRx says on its website. The announcement comes as UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced last week that the government will provide an additional £2 billion to support science, including bioscience.
LIFNanoRx is designed to protect the brain. Using tiny soluble nanoparticles, LIF is slowly released precisely where it is needed. The released LIF then taps into the body’s own mechanisms for brain repair, with the potential not only to prevent disease progression but also to enhance current treatments of MS.
In 2014, Dr Metcalfe was presented with the prestigious Merck Serono GMSI (Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Innovation) Award, in recognition of her novel approach to treat people who suffer from MS.
In 2015, Dr Metcalfe was provided a place on the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre’s Accelerate Cambridge programme. The programme gives support and guidance within the very competitive BioPharma space, and has helped provide a springboard to important funding opportunities.
Dr Metcalfe said:
This grant through Innovate UK will underpin clinical trial development, where our long-term aim is to treat MS on a global scale. I want to thank Innovate UK for this important funding, and also extend thanks to Cambridge Judge Business School for its support during this critical period in our development. The access to business leaders and insight gained through Accelerate Cambridge has increased my confidence working within the commercial world. We are gaining respect as an established commercial enterprise able to help patients whilst also engaging with Big Pharma to meet global needs.