MedAnnex Ltd, an innovative biotechnology company based in Edinburgh, will receive £203,129 from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
The grant will accelerate the development of a new therapy to treat systemic lupus erythematosus (‘lupus’).
Lupus is a complex, long-term autoimmune condition which causes the body’s immune system to become hyperactive and attack normal, healthy tissue. This leads to inflammation of the joints, skin and other organs. Despite the fact that lupus is becoming more prevalent, current treatment options are very limited.
MedAnnex is collaborating with world-leading clinical experts to develop a novel approach to lupus treatment. This involves using antibodies to target annexin-A1, a protein that occurs naturally in the body and plays an important role in the response of the immune system to inflammation. By modulating the effects of annexin-A1, MedAnnex plans to develop a new first-in-class therapy to help people living with lupus.
MedAnnex’s approach has already shown significant potential in laboratory tests. The Innovate UK grant will help to fund the next development stage, including further efficacy tests and preliminary toxicology work. The results will play a vital role in assessing the safety and therapeutic potential of the antibodies, in preparation for clinical trials.
Prof Claudia Mauri, Professor of Immunology at University College London, said: “There is a pressing need for new lupus therapies, and the antibody approach being developed by MedAnnex could represent a big step forward in treating this debilitating condition.”
Dr Fiona Dempsey, Director of Scientific Operations at MedAnnex, said: “We’re thrilled to receive funding from Innovate UK for our lupus programme. As a small biotech, this kind of support is vital, not only in helping to pay for development work, but also in providing independent validation of our technology, and its potential to make a difference to people’s lives.”
Total costs for the 16-month project are estimated at £290,000. The co-funding from Innovate UK will cover up to 70% of the project costs, with MedAnnex’s investors supporting the remaining 30%.
The Innovate UK grant award is the latest in a series of successes for MedAnnex over the last 12 months, including funding via Scottish Enterprise’s SMART: SCOTLAND scheme and an Innovation Award at Corporate LiveWire’s Healthcare & Life Sciences Awards. MedAnnex has also been shortlisted as a finalist in the “Outstanding Skills Development” category at Scotland’s Life Sciences Annual Awards on 28 February 2019.