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4 November, 2012 - 12:13 By Tony Quested

Cambridge ‘fab five’ share £39m biomed funding

Iain-Gray

Five pioneers from the Cambridge BioMed cluster and a sixth eastern region company based in Norwich are among 32 UK organisations sharing £39 million government funding to accelerate development of new healthcare technology.
Four of them are based at Cambridge Science Park – Arecor Limited, Cantab Biopharmaceuticals Ltd, Discuva Ltd and Sentinel Oncology. ImmunoBiology Ltd is based at Babraham Research Campus and Intelligent Fingerprinting Ltd at Norwich Research Park.
 
These are the first substantial awards made from the £180 million Biomedical Catalyst – a programme of public funding jointly managed by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the Medical Research Council and launched by  Prime Minister David Cameron last December.

Awarded to universities as well as companies, the projects are designed to speed-up the translation of scientific ideas into commercial propositions, for the greater benefit of patients.
 
Science Minister David Willetts said: “Britain is in a global race today and this £39 million investment will help keep us at the very forefront of life sciences by supporting some of our most innovative SMEs and universities. It will help take excellent ideas through to market, driving growth and helping patients benefit from the very latest technologies and treatments.”
 
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said the evaluators of the corporate and academic projects had been “hugely impressed by the number and quality of applications, which just goes to show the strength, vitality and innovative spirit of the UK’s world-leading life sciences industry.”
 
Arecor has developed Arestat™, a formulation technology, which enables the formulation of labile proteins and vaccines as stable aqueous formulations even at high concentrations or in the presence of ionising radiation.
 
As a simple reformulation, the technology can be readily integrated into existing manufacturing processes. Arestat™ does not involve the covalent modification of biologics and uses only GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) excipients approved by relevant regulatory authorities.
 
Arecor is collaborating with a number of pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop recombinant proteins and vaccines for application in drugs, medical devices or diagnostics.
 
Arestat™ has a proven track record and has been incorporated into a Class III medical device (Oxyzyme™) approved in the EU and Canada. It is currently being applied to several recombinant biologics in various stages of development for administration via parenteral, ocular and transdermal routes.
 
Cantab Biopharmaceuticals is committed to the discovery and development of innovative drugs and drug formulations. While the biopharmaceuticals business, based on the Cambridge Science Park, is focused on the development of ‘biosuperior" products’, the anti-infectives group, based in Welwyn, has a strong portfolio of development programmes addressing the key life-threatening pathogens that are responsible for difficult to treat infections especially in the hospital setting.
 
Discuva Ltd is a drug discovery company focused on the creation of next generation targeted antimicrobials against new emerging and drug-resistant bacterial pathogens. The company's objective is to advance aggressively its antibiotic product pipeline and become a leading antibiotics company with extensive validation of its proprietary platforms.
 
ImmunoBiology Ltd (ImmBio) is developing the next generation of anti-infective vaccines. The portfolio addresses areas of high unmet need, where the risk and consequence of infection are severe.
 
ImmBio has an established product and process patent estate around ImmBioVax™ vaccines which are said to be highly efficient in bridging between an innate and an adaptive immunological response. In addition, ImmBio has licensed in complementary technology around the delivery of antigens to DCs through fusion proteins.
 
Intelligent Fingerprinting is a spin-out from UEA with intellectual property in the field of co-detection of identity and illicit substances. The company is developing technology for the high sensitivity and high definition detection of metabolites and fingerprints using proprietary detection reagents and standardised protocols which can be easily deployed into forensics laboratories and for ‘scene of incident’ analysis in policing and homeland security.
 
Sentinel Oncology is committed to the discovery of new and innovate treatments for cancer patients. Its role is to advance novel ideas for new cancer drugs from the concept stage to candidate drug selection. The company’s internal pipeline is focused on the development of targeted therapeutics for areas of unmet medical need in oncology.

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