A University of Bristol spin-out company has raised £1.1 million in funding to develop next generation cell therapies that could open new ways to treat solid tumours and improve the lives of 18 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
Presently, treatments for solid tumours, which account for most tumour deaths, are limited by the inability of immune cells to penetrate the tumour microenvironment. CytoSeek's pioneering cell membrane augmentation technology is being used to create the first effective cell therapy for solid tumours. The process involves modifying a patient’s own immune cells to “supercharge” them against cancer cells.
Adam Perriman, Professor of Bioengineerng in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol, and founder of CytoSeek, explained: “At the moment cell therapies of this kind are only used in the treatment of cancers in the blood, such as leukaemia. We are looking at ways that cell therapy can also be used for solid tumours, which are responsible for 85 per cent of cancer-related deaths. To do this, we have developed a protein-based cellular paint that can be put on cells to improve their cancer-killing performance.
“In the last three years Bristol has created an incredible environment for the clinical translation of science to biotechnology, and this investment will help us to rapidly accelerate the pre-clinical validation of the technology, which will help get it to the clinic faster.”
The company, which is based at Bristol's Unit DX incubator, secured funding from ten entrepreneurs who are all members of the Bristol Private Equity Club; the Venture Capitalist fund UKI2S and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund managed by Parkwalk.
Jerry Barnes, founder of Bristol Private Equity Club, said: “Ten of our members have put their money and business expertise behind CytoSeek as biotech businesses like this need the financial backing in their early years to enable them to make progress.
“It is exciting that work going on in Bristol today may lead to breakthroughs in treatment that could benefit people throughout the world in the future.”
Oliver Sexton, Investment Director of UKI2S, added: “UKI2S was the founding investor in CytoSeek supporting its early growth and following again in this latest round. We are excited about the potential to improve efficacy across a range of immuno-oncology therapies.”
Keith MacDonald, Chairman of CytoSeek, said: “We're pleased to have closed our latest investment round so quickly – now our research team can focus on bringing this important science to the clinic. Getting the backing of local angel investors and national venture capital funds is a real boost. CytoSeek’s deep tech will make a real impact in medicine.”
Source: University of Bristol