Scottish pharma company raises £1.3m for cancer gene therapy drug development

Dylan Macdonaldblog

Scottish Borders-based pharmaceutical company, Ryboquin Ltd, has raised £1.3m of new funding that will allow the company to take its cancer gene therapy product one step closer to undergoing clinical trials.

In its latest funding round, Ryboquin Ltd, which is headquartered in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, has raised £800,000 from existing investors – including Scottish Enterprise; angel investors Tri Cap and Braveheart; and board members – and from a range of new investors.

This is being supplemented by the award of a Scottish Enterprise SMART fund research and development grant of £495,000.

The company’s product, which is named Ryboquin ECP-102, is a Tumour Apoptosis Enhancer and one of a new class of gene therapy drugs designed to make chemotherapy many times more effective in patients. The funds raised will be used to initiate the process of scaling up* the product to enable it to be tested in a full scale clinical trial.

Ryboquin also announces today that this work is to be carried out by the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, under Professor Alex Mullen, Professor of Pharmacy Practice.

The company also works closely with University College London UCL London, where the patented nanoparticle, LiPTide, that delivers the RNA molecules to the targeted cells, was developed.

Ryoboquin plans to raise a further £7m – £10m from institutional investors during 2016, the proceeds of which will be used to fund the Phase 1 clinical trial of Ryboquin ECP-102 and for further corporate expansion.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr Alan Walker, Chief Executive of Ryboquin, said:
“In Ryboquin, we now have a product that we believe could enable traditional chemotherapy to be up to four times as effective in some people and reduce some of the side effects of this treatment in some others. This funding will enable us to take Ryboquin from the laboratory to a place where it can be used in hospital for a clinical trial.”

Professor Alex Mullen, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Strathclyde, said:
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to work in partnership and to accelerate the process that might ultimately see this product getting into a clinical environment where it may be of benefit to patients. I relish the prospect of co-ordinating the science relating to the scaling up of this product in order to get it from the laboratory into clinical trials.”

Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to support this ambitious Scottish company in scaling up its business, thanks to equity investment from our SIB co-investment funds, and in taking a potentially game-changing product to clinical trial following the award of one of our SMART R&D grants.

“We know that companies that embrace both innovation and exporting grow twice as fast as those that don’t. These are crucial competitive advantages, not just for Ryboquin, but for the long-term success of the Scottish economy.”