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Spinout Syntopix announces new funding deal


University of Leeds life sciences company Syntopix Ltd has secured further capital of just under £180,000 through a consortium of regional investors.

Formed in 2003, Syntopix is based on the leading research of husband and wife team Drs Jon Cove and Anne Eady, both microbiologists in the University’s Skin Research Centre. Their work focuses on developing novel therapeutics for dermatological diseases, including acne and Staphylococcus aureus infections such as the ‘superbug’ MRSA.

The deal, announced this week, sees investment from a consortium comprising: Techtran Group Ltd, regional venture capital funds the White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund and the Viking Fund, and business angels Dr Gwyn Humphreys and Dr Rod Adams.

Dr Humphreys has been appointed as the company’s new chairman and Dr Adams joins Syntopix as a non-executive director. Both have successful track records in growing businesses in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr Humphreys was joint founder / CEO of Bradford Particle Design, sold to Inhale Therapeutics in 2001 for $200m and Dr Adams was formerly CEO of Medical Solutions plc and local dermatology company Adams Healthcare. Dr Alex Stevenson has joined the company as Chief Executive Officer.

Syntopix was spun out by Techtran Group, the commercialisation partner of the University of Leeds, and the science underpinning the company was initially funded with £500,000 from the Wellcome Trust. The company’s approach is to generate new therapeutic products for target diseases by identifying novel combinations of compounds which together deliver new therapeutic benefits. Since the majority of the compounds used already have well-documented pharmacology and toxicity profiles and are already established as safe for human use, the development cycle of new products can be substantially reduced, saving both time and money. The company is rapidly developing a pipeline of its own drug candidates, and expects to commence clinical trials of its lead candidates in the next two to three years.

In addition the company offers contract testing and expert consultancy in pre-clinical and clinical drug development. A number of contracts with partners in the dermatology arena are already in place. The new funding strengthens the management structure, increases the research team to six and will accelerate the development of anti-acne products.

Syntopix CEO Dr Alex Stevenson said: “We are delighted to have received the backing of such a broad range of regional investors and look forward to bringing the results of our research to the clinic.”

The White Rose Technology Seedcorn Fund has to date invested in nineteen spinout companies from the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York. Investment Manager, Dr Susan Hill, said: “We were attracted to Syntopix’ considerable expertise in the field of skin diseases, which includes a number of significant markets, and the company’s approach to product development. We look forward to working with the team to deliver on its exciting potential.”

The investment is the first for the Viking Fund, which was established in June to provide seed capital for technology-based early stage companies in the Yorkshire and Humber region. Viking Fund managing director Andrew Burton said: “Syntopix is fairly typical of early-stage, technology businesses in which Viking Fund is looking to invest. It has high quality science, a simple commercial model, experienced people and ready matching investment.”

Dr Alex Stevenson | alfa
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