University of Birmingham vaccine technology is rising star in new biotech company

Posted on Wednesday 15th December 2010

University of Birmingham spin-out company, Hybrid BioSystems, Ltd. (Hybrid), and Myotec Therapeutics, Ltd. (Myotec) today announced their merger to form PsiOxus Therapeutics, Ltd. (PsiOxus), a new, development stage biotechnology company using non-traditional approaches to novel therapeutics for cancer and wasting diseases.

PsiOxus, which will be led by CEO Dr. John Beadle, boasts a combined pipeline of phase I and II clinical stage assets, including Hybrid’s own lead candidate ColoAd1, a unique oncolytic virus developed using the evolutionary principle of natural selection to generate a virus with optimal anti-cancer properties. PsiOxus’ lead candidate is MT-102, a dual action Anabolic Catabolic Transforming Agent (ACTA) in phase II clinical development for the treatment of cachexia, a wasting disease that is the direct cause of death in 20 to 40 percent of all cancer patients.

The research pipeline also includes the vaccine platform PolySTAR, which combines recombinant viral vectors with polymers to shield them from the immune system, and the adjuvant and immunotherapeutic platform PolyMAP, which combines polymers with synthetic adjuvants to significantly enhance the effectiveness of vaccines.

Both technologies were researched and developed at the University of Birmingham, with funding from Cancer Research UK, under Hybrid founders, Prof Len Seymour, now Chair of Gene Medicine at Oxford University, and Kerry Fisher, an alumnus of the University of Birmingham and an internationally-recognized specialist in molecular medicine.

In conjunction with the merger, PsiOxus completed a £3.6 million ($5.8 million) financing with the participation of all major investors of both predecessor companies, including Imperial Innovations, Invesco Perpetual, and the Mercia Fund, a £12.8 million venture capital fund, focused on the West Midlands of which the University of Birmingham is a close partner. The major shareholders of PsiOxus include Imperial Innovations, Invesco Perpetual, Mercia Fund, Cancer Research Technology and the University of Birmingham.

Dr James Wilkie, Chief Executive of Alta Innovations, and Director of Research and Commercial Services at the University of Birmingham, said: “The merger of the University of Birmingham’s spin-out company, Hybrid Biosystems, with Myotec Therapeutics is a fantastic development. Together with the significant investment in PsiOxus Therapeutics, this provides an exceptional platform on which to further develop and accelerate the commercialization of novel and important therapies that target cancer and wasting diseases.”

Professor Lawrence Young, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham also welcomed the news: “The University of Birmingham is world-leading in translational cancer research, and the merger and subsequent investment in PsiOxus serves as a great exemplar of how our research in gene and immunotherapy can be harnessed for patient benefit.”

See the PsiOxus website