New venture receives investment from the Mercia Fund

Posted on Tuesday 25th January 2011

The Native Antigen Company (NAC) has been formed following a spin out from PsiOxus (formerly Hybrid BioSystems, a spin-out of the University of Birmingham). NAC, headquartered in Birmingham with research offices in Oxford, has its expertise in the isolation and purification of both viral and bacterial native antigens. These antigens serve as key components of infectious disease testing kits (a growing market estimated to be worth up to £100m); their function being to accurately detect pathogenic infection by capturing antibodies in patient samples. With their proprietary approach developed over many years of research at Hybrid BioSystems, NAC is well placed to take a significant part of a growing need for diagnostic kit producers to purify and supply challenging components which result in enhanced assay performance. This is best illustrated in the immune-compromised patient where an accurate and rapid diagnosis of respiratory or gastric pathogens can be critical to patient survival.

Andrew Maxwell CEO said “Most antigens used in current diagnostic kits are not native and can thus lack the specificity and sensitivity which we offer with our native antigens. Accurate identification of an organism is vital to ensure an effective patient treatment regime. Industry has become reliant on recombinant antigens in part, due to perceived costs savings and ease of manufacture. There is a clear gap for an innovative company which can focus its expertise in the isolation and purification of native antigens and is prepared to work closely with the kit manufacturers to provide tailored, cost effective solutions. This is reflected in the strong market appetite to evaluate our approach.”

Mark Payton, CEO Mercia Fund Management, commented "NAC has a tremendous opportunity to improve the performance of diagnostic kits with the supply of native antigen kit components. The business has a strong team and a set of supportive investors that truly understand the industry and market opportunity. We look forward to the continued growth of this business".

For information on PsiOxus, see the news story University of Birmingham vaccine technology is rising star in new biotech company

Editors Notes:

About the Mercia Fund

The Mercia Fund (Fund) is focused on supporting leading technologies with global potential in Healthcare (particularly MedTech), telecoms, ITC and Clean Technologies. The Fund provides venture capital for early-stage technology start-ups that are based in the West Midlands region and that have achieved proof of principle. Potential investees must demonstrate their potential for rapid growth and will possess a strong proprietary position with respect to their technology, intellectual property, and products.

The Fund is managed by WM Enterprise*, based at its central Birmingham offices. WM Enterprise* is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and is a member of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA).

About The Native Antigen Company, Ltd.

The Native Antigen Company (NAC) specialises in the purification of Native Viral and Bacterial Antigens for the in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturer. NAC has the scope to produce almost any Native Antigen, from low volumes to bulk. In addition, NAC offers an Adenovirus purification and production capability and a screening service for anti-cancer drug compounds

Andrew Maxwell is the CEO of NAC. Mr Maxwell was previously Managing Director at Lab21 and prior to this held global responsibility at Genetix plc for its reagent and microarray divisions.. Professor Geoffrey Hale, CEO of BioAnalab, which was acquired by Millipore in 2009, will serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

The shareholders of NAC include Management, Mercia Fund, Cancer Research Technology and the University of Birmingham.

For more information please see The Native Antigen Company