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A new model for innovation
10-07-2014
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author
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LONDON—Magnus Life Science, a new life-sciences company introduced in a statement to the press as being “based on ground-breaking clinical and academic research, some of which originated from University College London (UCL),” has raised £15.5 million (about $25.7 million) in seed funding to advance its therapeutic programs. The financing has been provided by a private equity investor with an established track record of investment in high growth sectors.
 
Magnus Life Science’s model is unique. Each program has been established as a separate company with founding scientists as shareholders. Magnus Life Science provides the overall strategic direction, management and a central project development capability across the individual project companies. The company’s strategy is to drive early clinical development of projects to critical value inflection points and then seek further investment or partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies for later stage development.
 
Among its early areas of research emphasis will be Magnus Oxygen: reperfusion injury syndrome—an injectable therapy to reduce long-term damage resulting from revascularization and to prevent chronic heart failure; Magnus Flow: in-stent restenosis and thrombosis—a novel biodegradable and bio-magnetic stent that can be combined with novel advanced therapeutics; Magnus Growth: Fetal growth restriction—novel maternal Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor therapy to improve the uterine blood supply to the placenta and increase fetal growth; Magnus Life: malignant melanoma—a new approach to modulate a proprietary target that can “uncloak” the tumor; and Magnus Metabolic: Type 2 diabetes—a novel small molecule aimed at treating accumulation of fat in muscle and other tissues
 
As part of an industrial collaboration, Magnus Life Science’s operational and R&D teams are based at UCL, one of the world’s leading universities. Its chief scientist is Prof. John Martin, chair of cardiovascular medicine at UCL and adjunct professor of medicine at Yale. The company’s five development programs are led by “renowned experts many of whom are also practicing clinicians,” the announcement introducing the venture stated.
 
The company’s portfolio brings real innovation to areas of high unmet medical need and is based around a central understanding of blood flow. Its programs include a new bio-degradable, bio- magnetic stent; a treatment for fetal growth restriction; and a treatment to prevent reperfusion injury and the development of chronic heart failure. Beyond the £15.5M committed seed-funding, two of its programs are further supported with European Commission Framework 7 (FP7) grants totaling €11.5 million.
 
CEO Dr. David Campbell said, “We are extremely excited to share details of what we believe will be a unique model for European biotechnology. At Magnus we combine world-class science with the management, people and capital needed to make real progress. Our industrial collaboration with UCL allows our team to work in an environment at the heart of university innovation. In securing this significant seed financing alongside grant funding, and through our close relationship with UCL, we can take three projects to clinical proof-of-concept, advance our earlier stage programs and build the foundations for further progress.”
 
Prof. John Martin, chief scientist and founder of Magnus Life Science, said, “Magnus embedded within UCL combines the creativity of the University, the research potential of the NHS [the U.K. National Health Service] and novel funding in a powerful mix with the potential to solve the problems of human disease rapidly.”
 
Prof. David Lomas, dean of the faculty of medical sciences at UCL, said, “The relationship with Magnus Life Science is a truly innovative way of turning scientific discovery into inventive new medical products. A unique partnership, the collaboration is based on a deep respect between the academics, clinicians and company with a shared aim of bringing new treatments to patients.”
 
Code: E10061401

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