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10 August 2018

Imperial unleashes Cagen with seed round

ICL spinout Cagen raised an undisclosed sum from Imperial Innovations and UKI2S to commercialise protein nanocages for shielding therapeutic payloads.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

Cagen, a UK-based synthetic biology spinout of Imperial College of London, made its public debut yesterday with a seed round of undisclosed size backed by the university’s tech transfer affiliate, Imperial Innovations

The round also featured UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, a $30m government-backed VC fund focused on building technologies from publicly-funded research centres.

Cagen’s self-assembling protein nanocages have been designed to shield therapeutic payloads from degradation or excess toxicity while travelling through the body.

Better modulation of certain compounds is expected to reduce their toxicity, enabling researchers to revisit previously failed projects, while also improving effectiveness by enabling more of each compound to enter the blood circulation.

Cagen has partnered an unnamed pharmaceutical firm to look at how the nanocages might be used to deliver complex payloads.

The spinout was founded by Geoff Baldwin, a reader in biochemistry at Imperial whose underlying research into protein nanocages was aided by Synbicite, a government-funded innovation and knowledge centre (IKC) for synthetic biology based at the university.

IKCs are part of the UK government’s commercialisation strategy, acting as an accelerator for industries anchored in scientific research.

Baldwin said: “Drug discovery and development is a long and arduous process with many potential ways to fail, such as a drug having poor pharmacokinetics, solubility, or poor cell permeability.

“We can use our protein nanocages to overcome these issues, improving a drug candidate’s chances for approval. In addition, the technology allows us to consider targets that were previously thought undruggable.”

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