Re-energised Cytox aims to grab Alzheimer's biomarker market with £3.5 million investment

Posted on Thursday 31st January 2013

Cytox Limited, developer of a unique blood biomarker, ADpredict™, using a proprietary cell cycle approach for Alzheimer's disease (AD), today announces a £3.5 million injection from new and existing backers reassured by a new, experienced management team with a proven track record.

ADpredict™, a blood-based test in development for identifying AD in early symptomatic patients, was developed by Cytox’s Science Director, Dr Zsuzsanna Nagy, Lead of the Neurodegeneration and Repair team based at the University of Birmingham.

Cytox is also today unveiling the completion of a study sponsored by Roche on ADpredict™. Cytox says the results further build their confidence that the assay – based on a totally novel paradigm for the disease-causing mechanism for AD – will become an important tool to assist pharma companies in their development of new therapies. The results will be used to refine the next steps in assay validation and clinical development. ADpredict™ has now been tested in close to 300 subjects in three clinical studies; the new data from this has been submitted for publication.

Steered by experienced diagnostics entrepreneur David Evans as Chairman, Cytox has appointed an ex-GE Medical Diagnostics Global Head of Research & Development, Richard Pither, as CEO. Richard has a background in molecular and cellular pathology and has been involved in the development of diagnostic and therapeutic pharmaceutical products for more than 20 years.

As well as Dr Nagy’s Birmingham lab, Cytox has opened a new HQ office on the Harwell Business Park near Oxford and a new research facility on the Manchester Science Park adjacent to the University of Manchester.

David Evans, Chairman of Cytox, says, "I am pleased to announce that we have exceeded our expectations for the first round of funding for Cytox at such an exciting juncture. This investment round is expected to exceed £3.5 million with around 85% coming from new backers. They are as excited as we are by Cytox’s proposition at a time when an early biomarker for Alzheimer’s is so keenly needed.

“We have compelling early validation data supporting the use of the ADpredict™ blood test in predicting Alzheimer’s disease in the early stages, just when having such a simple research use biomarker has become critically important to the development of new therapies. It was vitally important for us that we got the right team in place to enable us to align our priorities amongst customers in both pharma and clinical markets and offer them the level of expertise they needed to progress their clinical studies.

“We will now push forward with our plans to complete the remaining steps in assay development, deliver near-term revenue opportunities and conduct prospective clinical studies.

“The immediate value in research is clear and, with over 35m people worldwide suffering from dementia and an estimated 75m experiencing some degree of cognitive impairment, the long-term potential for use in clinical trials and diagnostic products is staggering."

Mr Evans also acknowledges the valued assistance of City of London broker Hybridan for helping find some of the investors who have contributed to the investment in Cytox.

Commenting, Dr Penny Attridge, Senior Investment Director at SPARK Impact, which manages the North West Fund for Biomedical, says: “We are excited to be investing in Cytox's paradigm-shifting science, just at a time when an early AD biomarker is so clearly needed in pharmaceutical research. The new management team at Cytox has an impressive track record and we have every confidence that the relaunched company will make a huge impact in its market." The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, which is provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply equity funding to small and medium sized enterprises in the North West of England.

Further commenting, renowned biotech investor, Jim Mellon, says: "We're delighted to see a renewed focus from Cytox. Their approach is unique and is being developed to create a much needed candidate companion diagnostic to identify Alzheimer's in its early stages. It should therefore continue to attract serious interest in this therapeutic market."

A key Cytox investor is The University of Birmingham. As a senior lecturer and Lead of the Neurodegeneration and Repair team at the University of Birmingham, Dr Zsuzsanna Nagy continues her pioneering work in Neurodegeneration, preclinical drug screening, biomarkers and risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases. Cytox has a strong intellectual property portfolio of in vitro diagnostic products all of which are licensed from the University of Birmingham via its wholly owned subsidiary Alta Innovations Ltd and the University of Oxford via ISIS Innovation, its technology transfer subsidiary.

Dr James Wilkie, CEO of Alta Innovations Ltd, says: “With a new management structure in place, 2012 has seen excellent progress culminating in a successful re-financing of the Cytox business. With this investment we feel confident that Cytox will be able to commercially develop its AD biomarker to the point where it can be successfully applied for use in screening patients for clinical trials.”

Dean Slagel, Managing Director of Esperante, the privately-held life science investment fund,says: “As a life science fund currently interested in diagnostics and biomarkers, we are delighted to be investing in Cytox on the merits of an excellent team and multiple market opportunities in the diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic management of Alzheimer's, Mild Cognitive Impairment and associated indications.  Cytox's unique approach is innovative, exciting and carries huge potential."

New investor, Rajat Malhotra, Partner, Wren Capital, says: "We were introduced to Cytox by David Evans. We have worked closely with David before: he has a strong track record in diagnostics.

There are three main reasons we decided to invest in Cytox. Firstly, the science behind it is very credible and innovative. Second, Alzheimer's diagnostics is with a big global market out there that needs a solution that we believe Cytox can provide. Thirdly, Richard Pither is without doubt one of the most impressive CEOs we have come across in a long time. The company is in the hands of somebody with the right vision, the right networks and deep experience in dementia."

Editor’s Notes

About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) causes degeneration of the brain, leading to progressive impairment of memory and for which there are currently no effective curative treatments. Furthermore, no test is currently used by clinicians to diagnosis AD in its early stages of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), before significant brain damage has occurred and effective disease-modifying treatments might still make a difference in patients' lives.

About Cytox Limited

Cytox Limited is a UK company developing diagnostic and prognostic services for neurodegenerative disorders. Cytox currently provides biomarker services, based on its ADpredict™ assay, to pharmaceutical industry clients conducting clinical trials with drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Its blood tests are used to predict which patients with MCI will develop AD, which allows treatment in the earliest stages of AD. The biomarkers are based on the cell cycle hypothesis of AD discovered by Dr. Zsuzsanna Nagy. This service enables patient stratification to enhance drug discovery and efficacy trials by means of a simple blood test, analysed in Cytox’s testing laboratory.

Cytox Technology

Cytox's technology is based on discoveries made by the company's scientific founder, Dr. Zsuzsanna Nagy, of cell cycle-related biomarkers associated with the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The cell cycle hypothesis postulates that dysfunction of the G1/S regulatory mechanism allows brain neurons to (abnormally) progress to the late stages of the cell cycle, where they produce plaques and tangles, the hallmark pathologies of AD.

Our investors

Alta Innovations Ltd is the technology transfer Office of The University of Birmingham and is responsible for the commercialisation of research undertaken at the University. Alta Innovations links academic research with business through licensing and spinout activity, collaborative research and consultancy projects to generate the new ideas, technologies and processes required to achieve competitive advantage.

For more information please see: http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/generic/alta-innovations/about/index.aspx

Esperante is a privately-held life science investment fund with a portfolio of 17 therapeutic development, diagnostic and specialty pharmaceutical companies in Europe, North America and Israel. Esperante is led by experienced management from the pharmaceutical and diagnostics industries and is presently focussed on increasing its involvement in diagnostics and therapeutics providing near-term or current revenues. Esperante's portfolio today comprises Altacor, Anergis, Atox Bio, BioSyntha, Canbex, Cara, Cytox, Endocells, Haemostatix, Immune Targeting Systems, Karus, NeuroTransit, Novacta, Pinnacle Biologics, Theryte, UroSens and Vantia. 

For more information please visit www.esperanteventures.com

The £25m North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, which is provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply equity funding to small and medium sized enterprises in the North West of England. The North West Fund for Biomedical, which was launched in February 2011, is accessible to a broad range of companies including those developing pharmaceuticals, new diagnostics and medical devices, and those working in the fields of clinical research, contract manufacturing and analytical services. It is open to companies based in, or prepared to relocate to, the North West of England, with 40% of the fund to be invested on Merseyside. It is expected that the fund will invest in over 50 businesses. It has already received over 200 applications and made over 40 investments to date.

For more information about the fund please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk

Wren Capital specialises in early stage investing across a variety of sectors. Our portfolio currently includes companies in the healthcare, energy, food & drink, and high-tech engineering sectors. Our involvement is tailored to the needs of each business and we aim to be a supportive value-adding investor. We generally follow a co-investment model and have links with a number of universities, business schools, angel networks and a trusted network of high quality investors who share our investment philosophy.

For more information please see: www.wrencapital.co.uk

-ends-

For further media information about Cytox, please contact:

Amanda Hayhurst  +44 (0)772 0205581  Amanda@amandahayhurst.com