XO1 Ltd raises $11million from Index Ventures
June 17 2013
A newly-formed biotechnology company, XO1 Ltd, announced today that it has raised $11million to develop a novel anticoagulant drug that has the potential to prevent heart attack and stroke without causing bleeding – thereby saving millions of lives.
The company has been created by Index Ventures, a leading investor in life science companies. “This represents the largest ever Series A investment in a life science company by Index Ventures to date, underlining the transformative potential we see in this drug candidate” said Kevin Johnson, Partner at Index Ventures, on joining the Board of XO1.
The money will be used to develop an antibody invented at the University of Cambridge, called ichorcumab, which targets the clotting enzyme thrombin.
Ichorcumab is a synthetic antibody based on a naturally-occurring antibody found in a patient at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in 2008. “This patient arrived in A&E with a head injury, and we rapidly discovered a degree of anticoagulation consistent with severe haemophilia” said Trevor Baglin, Consultant Haemotologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, who was responsible for looking after the patient in question. “We thought it might be fatal. But to our surprise the bleeding stopped quite normally.”
It was that fortuitous observation which led Dr Baglin - and his colleague Professor Jim Huntington at the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, one of the world’s foremost researchers into blood coagulation - to design a synthetic version of the antibody in the patient’s blood that was responsible for this extraordinary anticoagulation in the absence of bleeding.
Anticoagulants, such as warfarin and the newer generation of drugs that directly target thrombin and another coagulation factor (fXa), are widely used to prevent thrombosis - an important cause of heart attacks and strokes. However, as blood clotting is essential to prevent bleeding, the use of these drugs is limited by the bleeding side-effects that they cause.
“Undoubtedly higher doses of these anticoagulant drugs could prevent the majority of heart attacks and strokes” Dr Baglin explained. “But we can’t give higher doses because the bleeding they cause would itself be fatal.”
Ichorcumab has the potential to change all that.
“This antibody can deliver a high degree of anticoagulation without increased bleeding; we’ve never seen that before,” says Professor Huntington.
The investment, which comes from the $200m Life Sciences fund Index launched last year to accelerate new drug discovery, will be used to complete the preclinical development of ichorcumab, and to manufacture substantial quantities of the antibody. “We expect to begin trials in human volunteers inside two years” said David Grainger, Venture Partner at Index Ventures and interim Chief Executive of XO1 Ltd.
The company will operate in virtual mode, without offices or labs, using out-sourced drug development expertise from across the globe. “That approach gives us maximum flexibility to deliver high quality development faster and cheaper,” said Dr Grainger, who is based at Babraham Research Campus, just south of Cambridge.
“We are delighted to license this exciting asset to XO1, backed by the experienced Index team,” said Andrew Walsh, Manager, Health Care at Cambridge Enterprise, the University’s commercialization arm, who has joined the Board of XO1.
“This is the most exciting drug candidate I have seen in twenty years in the industry” said Dr Grainger. “It has the potential to save millions of lives.”Back to top