In order to launch a new business based on a decade of research at the University of Edinburgh, healthcare-focused investor Syncona has invested £ 26.6 million in seed funding.
Resolution Therapeutics is developing cell therapies, including end-stage chronic liver disease, to repair organ damage. This could lead to advanced liver damage being treated, which would otherwise require transplantation.
FTSE-listed Syncona’s investment is expected to allow Resolution to obtain early clinical results for its first product.
The new biopharmaceutical company develops macrophage cell therapies at the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the university. Macrophages are immune system cells that are involved in the reaction, including the wound healing process, to injury.
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Resolution exploits macrophages’ ability to promote organ repair after disease-induced damage. A genetically modified macrophage for the treatment of patients with compensated cirrhosis – where the liver is seriously weakened but still functions – is the first program.
There are currently no medications and patients are at risk of developing decompensated cirrhosis, in which the liver can no longer function and a transplant is needed for the patient. Every year in the UK, more than 4,000 individuals die from cirrhosis, and about 700 individuals require liver transplants.
For a decade, Professor Stuart Forbes, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine, and his research team have been working, with support from the Medical Research Council, on the function of macrophages in organ repair. Since 2018, Syncona has been working with his team to develop processes for cell therapy for macrophages.
The joint team is also working to refine the development process with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) and to manufacture genetically modified macrophages for clinical use.
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“Our research suggests that macrophage cell therapy could have a therapeutic effect in liver cirrhosis,” Professor Forbes said. “By developing genetically engineered macrophages, we hope to enhance the beneficial effects of these cells and thereby improve the lives of those suffering from chronic liver disease.”
The business will be based at the BioQuartier Edinburgh Centre for Regenerative Medicine. It will be headed by Edward Hodgkin, Managing Director, a partner at Syncona.
“Mr. Hodgkin said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Edinburgh’s world-class team as we jointly create a business that will develop and sell macrophage cell therapies to treat critically ill patients for whom there are no other therapeutic options.
“It’s a very exciting opportunity, and we will be at the forefront of developing a new type of cell therapy.”