More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Funding Soothes the Pain

http://www.tornado-insider.com/news/Article.asp?id=11956

13 September 2001 11:26
By Sabina Rosset

A revolutionary pain treatment could allow the use of nervous tissue to deliver painkillers directly to the source, reducing the possible side effects. The discovery was announced last November, at the Society of Neuroscience conference in New Orleans, by professor Aaron Filler, a neurosurgeon at the University of California in Los Angeles. The Cambridge (UK) based biotech company that holds the patent for the technology developed by Filler, SynGenix, has now secured new funding worth £5 million (€8 million), and thanks to this it aims to begin human testing of a therapy against acute and chronic pain.

The British company was founded in 1992 by the Californian professor and by another of the scientists involved in the research, Andrew Lever from the University of Cambridge. “For years SynGenix has been involved exclusively in research,” explains the CEO, Tom Saylor, “only in 1998, when the first set of funding for £1.5 million (€2.4 million, editor’s note) arrived, did we decide to explore the entrepreneurial side of the company”.

The second round of funding, which was announced today, was led by Technomark Medical Ventures and by World Life Sciences. While Providence Investment Company, the funds managed by the Generics Cambridge Research and Innovation group and the business angel Martin Bloom, have all re-invested in the SynGenix. The institutional investors currently have control of the company.

The drug delivery platform is called “Pro Vector”, and was developed by Filler. It is capable of using a biochemical function of the central nervous system, the so-called axonal transport. With a method very similar to that used with therapeutic antibodies, SynGenix uses axonal transport to administer the active principles directly to the centre of the nervous cells in order to stop the pain. However, the technology may have many other uses for all illnesses affecting the nervous system, from Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“We think that this painkiller could be introduced into the market in four or five years”, explains Saylor, who estimates the market potential of Pro Vector to be around £20 billion (€32 billion). Besides this treatment against acute and chronic pain, SynGenix is also testing another two drugs for neuropathy. The Cambridge-based company’s business model, which involves reaching profits in five or six years, also involves selling the license for its technology.

Last year the British company signed an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline, which was interested in using SynGenix’s technology as a drug delivery system for one of its own active principles. “Lots of companies have shown their interest in our activities,” explains Saylor, “we expect this collaboration to also branch out to the target validation sector and therapeutic molecules sector”.
 

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