Scottish Biopharma Company’s state-of-the-art tech attracts £730K investment

29/01/2024

SCOTTISH biopharmaceutical company Aurum Biosciences has raised almost £730,000 in the first tranche of a new round of equity funding aimed at further developing its state-of-the-art therapeutic and diagnostic technology and setting up fresh success in 2024. 

The funding round – which will be split across two tranches – has been supported by new and existing investors. 

These include co-founder Dr Celestine Santosh, InnoScot Health, Scottish Enterprise, TRICAPITAL business angel syndicate, and a number of private investors, representing another major milestone in the growth of the company. 

A spinout of InnoScot Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and the University of Glasgow, clinical stage company Aurum is developing a novel drug for therapeutics and multiple diagnostics, in areas of unmet clinical need such as stroke, spinal cord injury, and inflammatory imaging.  

This drugis a novel oxygen carrier but is also being developed as a 19F contrast agent for imaging with MRI. 

The funds will be used to advance the company’s patented ABL-101 platform technology ahead of further planned investment and growth in 2024. 

ABL-101 has the potential to offer major advancements in the management of acute stroke patients, especially acute ischemic strokes (AIS) – a leading global cause of disability and the second-leading cause of death. 

It also has the potential to reduce ischemic damage in acute spinal cord injury, improve treatment options in radiotherapy resistant tumours, and reduce secondary organ damage in cardiac arrest among other uses. 

Dr Santosh – a Clinical Consultant Neuroradiologist with a special interest in stroke working at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, and now Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Aurum – has made a significant personal investment. 

He said: “I am immensely proud that Aurum Biosciences’ leading technology continues to develop so positively. I believe that my own participation in this round amply demonstrates my huge belief in its vast benefits and wide applications. 

“My clinical background and knowledge of the great team in place at Aurum tells me all I need to know – that this is a company which offers unique know-how and has world-leading capabilities that will only go from strength to strength and will help to put Scotland on the map. 

“It is a real homegrown success story that continues to take on a life of its own. I am in no doubt that an even brighter future awaits.” 

Aurum CEO David Brennan said: “We are delighted to complete this fresh round with our investment partners – a significant step up on the previous round. We believe that is testament to the vast potential of, and significant clinical need for ABL-101 particularly in stroke treatment and diagnosis, and as we increasingly now set our sights on its applications for acute spinal cord injury trials following very positive scientific advice from MHRA. 

“Advancing management of strokes remains our primary goal and commitment, with one in six people globally having a stroke in their lifetime, 5.8 million dying each year as a result, and disability increasing by 1% for every nine minutes of stroke. 

“However, we are certain that spinal cord injury will also become an increasing focus as we further develop pipeline indications, providing hope for the many patients, carers, and healthcare professionals who live with the consequences of such devastating conditions.” 

Commenting on the new investment, Graham Watson, Executive Chair of InnoScot Health said: “This new funding round further bolsters our collective belief in what ABL-101 can achieve in tackling AIS whilst also targeting other life-threatening and serious conditions. 

“In Scotland alone, stroke is the third biggest killer and the leading cause of disability, while the number of people injured or diagnosed with a life-changing spinal cord injury in the UK is estimated to be 2,500 per year, requiring comprehensive rehabilitation and life-long care. 

“We are incredibly proud to be part of Aurum Biosciences’ progress to date as a truly pioneering success with exciting development plans and widespread investor interest. This new funding injection will accelerate ambitions to bring innovative, life-saving technology to patients as quickly as possible.” 

Last year, Aurum announced that it had been recognised by the United Kingdom’s Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway (ILAP) for ABL-101 and awarded an Innovation Passport which acts as a gateway to the accelerative pathway, streamlining innovative products to market, and helping to improve patient access to new and effective treatments. 

The ILAP was awarded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC). To qualify for the pathway, new medicines must offer significant benefits to patients with a life-threatening or seriously debilitating condition or meet a significant patient or public health need. 

Moray Martin, CEO of TRICAPITAL said: “As long-term supporters of Aurum, we are delighted to see the company’s recent progress as it enters its next exciting chapter under David’s leadership.”  

Kerry Sharp, Director of Entrepreneurship and Investment at Scottish Enterprise, added: “Scottish Enterprise has supported Aurum Biosciences for a number of years, so it’s great to see the company reach this latest funding milestone. The company is developing advanced treatments against stroke and other life-threatening conditions, which has the potential to deliver huge benefits for patients across the world.” 

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