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22 October, 2013 - 08:41 By Tony Quested

Ithaka inspires new drugs tech venture

Dr Paul Rodgers

Cambridge entrepreneurs have co-founded and helped raise seed funds for a new UK university spin-out in the medical technology arena.

Ithaka Life Sciences is at the heart of the new business – CYP Design Ltd (CDL) – which it has co-founded with De Montfort University (DMU).

Dr Paul Rodgers of Ithaka, who has joined the CDL board, tells Business Weekly that the startup plans to launch its first products early next year and will be seeking further funding in 2014 to support scale-up of product manufacture.

The amount of seed cash raised is confidential. CDL, an Ithaka client, will initially be based in Leicester to be close to the founding academic’s lab, Dr Rodgers said.

CDL is a spin out from the Leicester School of Pharmacy, part of the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences at DMU. The company was founded to market new technology designed to speed up and reduce the cost of the development of new drugs and medicines.

A leading cancer studies expert at DMU, Professor Bob Chaudhuri, has invented the technology which will provide new products and services, based on a set of proteins, named cytochrome P450s (CYPs). CDL holds the licence for the new technology and is now seeking to bring the new products to market.

CYPs are found in the human liver and are mostly responsible for the metabolism of drugs in people. These proteins are commercially available for use by companies involved in the discovery of new drugs. However, the proteins are inconvenient to use as they must be transported and stored at temperatures as low as minus 80 degrees Celsius.

This new technology allows users to ship and handle CYPs at room temperature, eliminating the need for a cold chain. This will reduce the cost, simplify and speed up their use in testing new drugs.

The seed funding round was led by Mercia Fund Management Ltd under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). As part of the SEIS round, the founders Prof Chaudhuri, Dr Bill Primrose and Dr Rodgers have been joined by leading entrepreneur David Gask as chairman of the board.

Dr Primrose, the CEO, said: “We’re delighted that MFM has shown confidence in our technology through this investment. The team’s support in terms of feedback on our strategy and providing us with crucial contacts within our industry will enable us to accelerate the launch of our first products.”

Ithaka Life Sciences provides expert advice, guidance, and hands-on support for organisations in the life sciences sector.

The company's team of industry experts works closely with companies ranging from SMEs to multinationals, universities and research organisations, investors, government agencies, the NHS and other public sector bodies to support them in the commercialisation of life science technologies.

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Dr Paul Rodgers

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