£3.5m to help Abzena cut heart attack and stroke risk

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07/03/2017

Abzena and a leading university have received a £3.5m grant to develop a novel therapy for a disease which leaves patients at risk of a stroke or heart attack.

The Babraham life sciences firm and a research group from the Centre for Rheumatology at University College London (UCL) have been awarded a £3.5m grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to progress the development of a novel treatment for anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS) which uses Abzena’s proprietary conjugation technology.

APS is a disorder of the immune system that leaves patients at increase risk of blood clots. Patients with APS are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack and pregnant women with APS have an increased risk of recurrent miscarriage. The condition can occur on its own or alongside other autoimmune disorders. Patients are currently treated with anticoagulants, such as warfarin, but these are associated with a significant risk of bleeding so there is a need for alternative therapies.

Abzena has a longstanding collaboration with Professor Anisur Rahman, Professor of Rheumatology at UCL, and his team, which is working on new treatments for the condition. The latest grant is part of the MRC’s Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme award and builds upon previous funding from Arthritis Research UK and the MRC. The funding will enable the lead product to be selected, material to be produced for preclinical studies, and the studies to support a clinical trial application to be completed ready for this potential new treatment to be taken into clinical development.

“Our collaboration with the UCL team is proving successful with a promising candidate now identified,” said John Burt, Abzena CEO.

“Thanks to the grant, UCL now has the funds to move towards the clinic and we look forward to further supporting the programme in the next stage of its development.”

Professor Rahman said: “This collaboration has been a team effort for the last decade. Working with an industrial partner has been a key feature of the project as both the academic and industry partners provided complementary expertise and looked at the project from different viewpoints. In addition, we have a good relationship with patient groups particularly APS Support UK so we can obtain a good idea of what patients need from new therapies in this syndrome.”

Lynne Kirwin, CEO of APS Support UK, added: “We welcome the award of this grant to this valuable research initiative. We have had the opportunity to work closely with UCL research team in recent years, providing feedback from patients on the therapies currently available for APS.

“The possibility of a new treatment will undoubtedly give hope to patients and will be warmly welcomed by clinicians working in the field.”


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