latest News

OxStem a finalist at the OBN Awards 2016

OxStem are delighted to have been short-listed for the award of 'Best Start-up Biotech Company' at the OBN Awards 2016. The winner will be announced on 6th October 2016. 

For more information, see: http://www.obn-awards.com/

OxStem Limited Establishes Two New Subsidiary Companies: ‘OxStem Neuro’ and ‘OxStem Ocular’ 

Please see our full press release here

Following the successful launch of OxStem Ltd and its first subsidiary OxStem Oncology in May this year, OxStem today launched its second and third subsidiary companies, OxStem Neuro and OxStem Ocular. Both companies are co-founded by chemists Prof Steve Davies and Prof Angela Russell alongside disease-specific experts, Prof Francis Szele (Neuro) and Prof Robert MacLaren (Ocular) with the intention of tackling age-related diseases with high unmet clinical need.

OxStem closes record £16.9m fundraising round to design stem cell drugs to treat age-related disease

Please see our full press release here.

One of the most ambitious Oxford spinouts to date is on route to becoming a powerhouse in age-related regenerative medicine, developing drugs which can treat cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, heart failure, macular degeneration and other major age-related conditions.

OxStem has raised a record £16.9m, and established strategic partnerships with world class biotechnology companies and individual investors in this rapidly emerging scientific space.

OxStem plans to develop small molecule drugs that can activate repair mechanisms that already exist within the body. Building on decades of experience in medicinal chemistry, OxStem will design drugs that can programme resident stem and stem-like cells in situ to treat currently untreatable age-related conditions.

In essence, OxStem seeks to switch on the body’s natural regeneration and repair systems. Current stem cell treatments mostly focus on injection of cells into the body and are available only in hospitals with access to the specialist laboratory facilities needed to harvest, isolate and multiply stem cells. OxStem plans to reprogram stem and stem-like progenitor cells that already exist in the body with no need for cell transplantation procedures.

This will be the sixth spinout for OxStem co-founder Professor Steve Davies from Oxford’s Department of Chemistry. Co-founders Professor Dame Kay Davies and Professor Angela Russell are also serial entrepreneurs with a number of drug-development spinouts to their names.

Professor Steve Davies said: “We will identify small molecule drug candidates, which can programme adult stem and stem-like cells to repair and replace tissues affected by disease or injury. We are tackling many of the worst conditions associated with ageing: dementia, heart failure, cancer and macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world.” He added: “We have been very fortunate in being able to collaborate with some 80 University colleagues, all leaders in their respective fields, to match our insights and skills with their domain expertise to innovate clinical models and potential therapies. This is Oxford science at its best.”    

The funding will be used primarily for the development of pre-clinical small molecule drug candidates.  “By developing drugs for this purpose we have the potential to revolutionise healthcare,” said OxStem Chairman and CEO Dr. Michael Stein. “Our talented team is now going to be supported by a highly sophisticated investor base.”

Dr. Stein continued, “Our Company is extremely fortunate to have the strategic backing of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) and CEO Dr. J. Craig Venter, along with the team of Mr Bob Duggan and Dr. Mahkam Zanganeh (former CEO & Chairman and Chief Operating Officer respectively) of Pharmacyclics that was sold last year to Abbvie for US$21 billion. Our other investors include a number of UK and international individuals as well as Oxford Sciences Innovation.  What is common to all our investors is that they are all driven by the desire to support OxStem’s world class medicinal science capabilities in its mission to positively impact millions of lives.”

The Company’s scientific advisory board, which is chaired by Professor Dame Kay Davies, will include Dr. Venter, who is best known for his seminal genomic sequencing work including sequencing the first human genome. Commenting on HLI’s involvement with OxStem, Dr. Venter said, “Professor Steve Davies and his team are true visionaries in this field and have world class chemistry capabilities. HLI is eager to work with OxStem to jointly discover new classes of stem-cell based therapies to help enable a true era of personalised medicine”.  

Oxford’s Isis Innovation supported the Company in preparing the spinout and commercialising the technology. Dr. Carolyn Porter, Deputy Head of Technology Transfer, Pharma and Biotech at Isis Innovation said: “This £16.9m funding – a record for a UK academic spinout – speaks to the enormous promise of OxStem”.

OxStem will fund the development of a series of daughter companies - each with a focus on a different large unmet therapeutic need. The first of these companies is OxStem Oncology, which will investigate the potential for intervening in therapy-resistant cancers. The team will focus initially on Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and Myelodysplastic Syndromes with a view to expanding to other conditions over time. Plans are well advanced for the subsequent launch of OxStem Cardio, OxStem Neuro and OxStem Ocular to apply the stem cell technology to developing therapies for cardiac failure, neurodegenerative diseases, and macular degeneration.

 

Groundbreaking Results for Gene-Therapy to Treat Blindness

BBC News reports groundbreaking gene-therapy work coordinated by Professor Robert MacLaren. The trial study aimed to correct defects in eye cells by injecting DNA and showed extremely promising results. This is an exciting step showing proof of concept for modification of eye cells. OxStem Ocular, of which Prof. MacLaren is lead clinical collaborator, aims to program retinal progenitor cells to proliferate using targeted small molecules.

The original research article was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Stem Cell Biology Protocol Published 

Work published by DPhil student Caitlin Clunie-O’Connor, under the joint supervision of Prof Angela Russell and Prof Paul Riley, outlines a protocol for establishing and maintaining cultures of human ‘stem-like’ heart cells derived from biopsies. The protocol also describes methods for monitoring the subsequent outgrowth of these cells. 

The work was published in Current Protocols in Stem Cell Biology. 

The Economist Reports on Stem Cells

A recent article published in The Economist describes the ‘coming of age’ of stem cells as medicines. Using stem cell involvement in treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) as an example, the possible cost effectiveness of stem cell therapy is highlighted. The full article can be found here.

Regenerative Medicine Review 

In recent years, there has been mounting evidence to support the presence of stem and progenitor cells within many adult tissues that retain the capacity to proliferate and differentiate, thereby contributing to tissue homeostasis and repair. This article published in 2013 provides a summary of the in situ stem cell therapy approach to regenerative medicine.

See full article: pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ml400110b

ITV News Interview 

OxStem Cardio collaborator, Professor Paul Riley, interviewed on ITV News on 20/05/15, discussing their pioneering research into the stimulation of epicardial cells to regenerate heart tissue. 

Full interview here

Stemistry: The Control of Stem Cells in Situ Using Chemistry

Released in January 2015, this paper reviews evidence from the literature that indicates the discovery of small molecule agents that stimulate stell cells is achievable and represents a worthwhile pursuit for the skills of the medicinal chemist.

Full article here

 

More News

Oncology

OxStem Oncology aims to develop a unique treatment for a wide range of tumour types. While current methods can remove the majority of the tumour, the ‘cancer stem-like cells’ (CSLCs) account for a very small proportion of the tumour and can persist unaffected by numerous therapeutic interventions. OxStem Oncology aims to identify a new class of drugs that will differentiate CSLCs to more benign states and improve clinical outcomes and overcome resistance/relapse. 

NEURO

OxStem Neuro will identify a new class of drugs that will stimulate de novo neuron production from neural stem cells that will compensate for disease pathology in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, and restore cognitive function. OxStem Neuro’s approach aims to significantly reduce the impact of the disease on cognitive function, by replenishing the lost neurons.

Ocular

OxStem Ocular aims to devise treatments for degenerate retinopathies by identifying a new class of drugs that will stimulate appropriate precursor cells within the retina of patients and increase the photoreceptor numbers to restore vision. The identification of small molecules able to repair damaged cells in vivo following intraocular injection or, ideally, oral delivery would represent a step change, overcoming many of the limitations of current therapies.