UMI3 Ltd is celebrating three years of working with the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst during which time a spin-out company has been formed and numerous other projects supported on the road towards commercialisation.
The Partnership is a working relationship between the Open Innovation Centre based at GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) in Stevenage and UMI3 Ltd, The University of Manchester’s innovation company, on Grafton Street in Manchester. The arrangement was initiated by ex-University of Manchester Incubator Company MD, Dr Martino Picardo, who left Manchester in 2011 to take up the role of CEO at the SBC.
Both parties have been working together since 2013 to foster biomedical innovation through a wide range of activities including: facilitating introductions to innovators, research collaboration managers and licensing executives; reciprocal exchange of information on tenant biomedical companies; sharing networks of investors and advisors and sharing best practice in biomedical innovation and incubation.
UMI3’s Dr Sunita Jones identified several potential technologies and discoveries from Manchester which were put forward to SBC’s Discover Assist Program, which comprises of a panel of independent experts and consultants. The collaboration has ultimately resulted in the formation of University of Manchester spin-out, Opticin Ltd, with others in the pipeline.
Opticin Limited Background
Opticin Ltd was set up by Professor Paul Bishop from the Centre for Hearing and Vision Research in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, who discovered a human protein molecule which has the potential to prevent abnormal blood vessel formation in the eye. This discovery led to the ongoing development of a potential treatment for eye conditions in adults and premature babies.
Paul and his colleagues found that the protein had potent anti-angiogenic properties and had characteristics that suggested it could be suitable for development into a therapeutic drug that could complement existing therapies in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR), a sight-threatening condition that affects 93 million people worldwide and in retinopathy of prematurity (RoP), affecting premature babies.
Help from the SBC
He explained how UMI3 Ltd, through its technology transfer division UMIP, and the SBC has helped to support the development of this novel technology through setting up a spin-out company:
“UMIP helped us to file the patent which enabled us to move the development of Opticin forwards. We also received Proof-of-Principle funding which allowed us to develop our research and were further supported by an additional input from the Welcome Trust. The support we have received has helped us to take this from a research finding to a development project with potentially significant clinical and commercial value.“
The technology was reviewed by an Expert Panel at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst facilitated by Dr Picardo and subsequently development of Opticin was recommended via a spin-out. The company was incorporated in early 2014.
Paul added: “Although we initially intended Opticin for Oncology therapy the SBC input directed us towards a focus on Ophthalmology. Further input from potential investors, turned us to an orphan indication, RoP an eye condition in which blood vessels can grow from the retina into the vitreous humor, a condition which affects premature infants and patients with diabetes.
Current treatment involves laser treatment to the retina which can result in scarring. It is anticipated that injecting Opticin into the eye will be far less invasive with minimal side effects and increased efficacy. The spin-out is now seeking funding to complete the pre-clinical development of Opticin.”