C3 Bio-Technologies Ltd launches to pursue commercial production of bio-propane through synthetic biology

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A company which has the capability to utilise synthetic biology to facilitate the production of propane has been formally incorporated and is seeking to develop industrial partnerships. C3 Bio-Technologies a University of Manchester spin-out, is based on cutting-edge research originating from the University’s Institute of Biotechnology, will investigate the use of micro-bacterial technologies in the production of bio-propane.

The company seeks to develop an economically-sustainable manufacturing process for full-scale bio-propane production.

Commenting on the formation of C3 Bio-Technologies, Director Michael Smith, said:

“This cutting-edge process has the potential to revolutionise the production of bio-fuel, forgoing the environmental issues associated with extracting fuel from non-renewable sources and drastically reducing the transport costs and carbon emissions associated with production.

“Similarly, bio-propane is a versatile, high-density energy source that does not increase the mass of carbon released into the environment as a consequence of using conventional combustion processes, because the carbon cycle is a fully closed loop.”

“The benefits of fossil fuel-based LPG (liquid petroleum gas) are already proven within the world energy market and a robust, reliable distribution infrastructure exists, which will enable the new volumes of bio-propane to be introduced to the market without significant change or investment from both local suppliers and consumers.”

Professor Nigel S. Scrutton, Director of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and co-founder of the company, added:

“C3-Biotechnologies seeks to bring a cutting-edge process to market that has fantastic potential and is built on landmark research into the developing field of synthetic biology. We foresee a great deal of industry demand for this exciting offering.”

The first public introduction to the technology took place at the annual conference of UKLPG, the UK trade association for the liquefied petroleum gas industry, on Thursday September 10th.

The commercial structure of C3 Bio-Technologies is spearheaded by two long-standing specialists from Biotechnology Research and the LPG industry. Professor Nigel S. Scrutton is the Director of Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and Michael Smith is the Director of PressureTech Transport Services Ltd – a specialist regional supplier of LPG.  UMIP, the University’s agent for technology transfer, will assist with early stage business development and intellectual property matters.

The process for industrial-scale development is currently being prepared for global licensing and companies with an appropriate level of established industrialisation are invited to submit an initial expression of interest to engage in preliminary negotiations for authority of use.


C4X Discovery – Breakthrough compounds for diabetes and inflammation

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23 September, 2015 – C4X Discovery Holdings plc (“C4XD”), a leader in rational drug discovery and design, is pleased to provide the following research update on recent key milestones in its programmes for Type 2 diabetes and inflammation, two areas of significant unmet medical need that represent large pharmaceutical markets.

Breakthrough approach

C4XD’s technology has enabled rapid progress across its programmes in recent months, providing further exciting proof-of-concept for our novel approach to drug discovery based on conformational design of solution structures. We have now met significant milestones in Type 2 diabetes and inflammation, adding to the earlier success with our Orexin-1 programme, and further demonstrating C4XD’s ability to rapidly and intelligently develop new medicines for areas of high, unmet need.

C4XD expects to progress both the Type 2 diabetes and inflammation programmes into in vivo proof-of-principle testing in the next few months.

Type 2 Diabetes: targeting GPR142

C4XD has identified novel lead molecules that activate GPR142, a key factor in the production of insulin. Targeting GPR142 may stimulate insulin production in a glucose-dependent manner, avoiding the hypoglycaemia risk associated with existing diabetes therapies. GPR142 has recently become the focus of considerable research and patent activity within the pharma industry.

Using its proprietary technology, C4XD has identified critical drug design principles, enabling us to generate potent, orally available compounds in just a few months.


C4XD has designed novel activators for the NRF-2 pathway, which is important in mediating diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (“COPD”) and Multiple Sclerosis (“MS”). NRF-2 is the subject of considerable investment by the pharma industry; for example, it is the target for the MS drug Tecfidera®, which generated 2014 revenues of $2.9 billion.

Existing approaches activate NRF-2 in a non-specific and/or irreversible way with potential for toxic side effects. C4XD’s technology has enabled us to rationally design and generate selective, reversible NRF-2 activators that may offer improved safety and efficacy.


C4XD’s most advanced compound, an oral Orexin-1 antagonist for the treatment of addiction, is in formal pre-clinical safety and toxicity studies prior to initiation of clinical trials. We expect to file a Clinical Trial Application to enable human studies at the end of 2016.

C4XD expects to be in a position to announce further news regarding novel targets in the coming weeks.

“We continue to make outstanding progress with our proprietary programmes, which are focused on areas of high unmet medical need, with large target markets” said Piers Morgan, CEO. “Our technology enables us to design novel, selective, potent leads and drug candidates in a fraction of the time and cost compared to conventional methods.”


Prestigious Award Establishes New Graphene Start-up

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Harari Daryl

A University of Manchester scientist has won a prestigious award for his business proposal to develop a range of graphene-based inks for printed electronics.

Daryl McManus, a PhD student at the University, is the recipient of this year’s Eli and Britt Harari Graphene Enterprise Award.

The £50k prize is designed to support the early stage implementation of a commercially-viable business proposal from students, post-docs and recent graduates of The University of Manchester based on the many and varied applications of graphene.

The prize money will be used to help found a new graphene start-up company based on producing graphene inks which have been a key area of interest for researchers. A compressed graphene ink RFID tag was recently unveiled by the University.

Daryl’s proposal to harness the superlative properties of graphene in developing graphene inks for printed applications impressed a panel of judges against twelve other entries.

New applications in printed electronics demand more concentrated inks that can be deposited in more consistent and environmentally friendly ways. Daryl’s proposed water-based inks provide an answer.

Daryl, 24, who is currently undertaking his PhD within the Graphene NOWNANO Doctoral Training Centre said: “Our environmentally friendly 2D material inks provide a cheap, scalable solution to the production of next generation flexible and transparent electronics.

“The Eli and Britt Harari award gives us the opportunity to take our unique inks from the laboratory to the marketplace where their properties can be exploited by both businesses and researchers to create a new generation of printed devices.”

The judging panel felt that Daryl’s was the most complete proposal, bringing together a compelling and viable business case supported by a credible application of graphene-based technology.

Professor Luke Georghiou, Vice-President Research and Innovation who led the judging panel commented; “The University is strongly committed to bringing the benefits of research to the economy and society.

“It is particularly pleasing when students get the opportunity to take their ideas into the market. This award provides a flying start for what I am sure will be a successful entrepreneurial career.”

Eli Harari, a University of Manchester alumnus and founder of SanDisk started the annual award three years ago to help create more graphene start-up companies. The award helps recognise the role that high-level, flexible early-stage financial support can play in the successful development of a business, targeting the full commercialisation of a product or technology related to research in graphene.

This year’s competition, which attracted 13 viable expressions of interest, was promoted and supported through the use of on-line resources, information sessions and business planning workshops involving the Manchester Enterprise Centre, UMI3 and last year’s winner, Dr Antonios Oikonomou.

With the recently opened National Graphene Institute providing world-class facilities and the high-profile conference Graphene Week 2015 attracting researchers from around the world to the University, it is expected that interest in this annual competition will grow substantially.

With the University’s ambition to create a Graphene City this award could provide a valuable leg-up for many innovative graphene start-ups to be based in Manchester.


C4X Discovery expands team

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Expansion of Team with Strong Biology and Development Expertise

3 September 2015 – C4X Discovery Holdings plc (“C4XD” or “the Company”), a leader in rational drug discovery and design, today announced that it is further strengthening its team with two new management appointments.

Dr Craig Fox joins the Company as Head of Biology and a member of the Senior Management Team. Dr Fox is an experienced biologist having worked on and managed many drug discovery and development projects during the last 18 years, from initial target selection right through to investigating clinical efficacy and safety in Phase II patient studies.  Prior to joining C4XD, Dr Fox was Director of Respiratory Research at Pulmagen Therapeutics, a clinical stage company spun-out of Argenta in 2010. Dr Fox also managed several of Pulmagen’s collaborations and partnerships, including those with AstraZeneca, Chiesi, Domantis, Dr Reddy’s, Skyepharma and Teijin Pharma. Dr Fox was part of the Etiologics Team that merged with Argenta Discovery in 2004 and prior to this he worked for Bayer as a Research Scientist.

Dr Clare Murray joins the Company as Project Manager. Dr Murray spent 23 years with AstraZeneca, where she was most recently Associate Director, Bioscience, within the Emerging Innovations Unit. Whilst at AstraZeneca, Dr Murray led biology, pharmacology and clinical development teams up to Phase II across a range of therapeutic areas including respiratory, inflammation, dermatitis and oncology. Dr Murray has spent the last year at The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences with responsibility for managing a portfolio of translational research projects.

“We are delighted to have further strengthened our management team with the addition of these two highly experienced development professionals and qualified biologists,” said Piers Morgan, CEO of C4XD. “Craig and Clare are highly respected, with solid track records of successfully progressing programmes into early stage clinical development in man, and bring a wealth of deep and relevant experience to support the continued development and value enhancement of our pipeline of programmes.”

UMIP Fellows Programme enters its 3rd Year

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We are now recruiting …

Our Fellows programme is modelled on the similar, highly successful Columbia Fellows Programme run at Columbia University in New York and offers a unique opportunity for full-time postgraduate students registered at the University to gain in-depth experience in technology commercialisation activities. The programme is intended to enhance our understanding of the commercial potential of University technologies, while providing Fellows with a valuable educational experience.

Successful Fellows receive structured training from UMIP staff in order to complete assignments, and the opportunity to participate in enterprise training from the Manchester Enterprise Centre. We expect that Fellows will be starting their 2nd year of PhD study in a STEM related discipline, and will be able to commit to the programme for at least one year.

Heather Thompson, Director of IP Development and Partnering at UMIP, commented: “It is great to get so much interest in the Fellows Programme and enthusiasm from students here. The benefits to both students and UMIP have clearly been demonstrated over the past two years. For UMIP, the Fellows provided valuable start-points for our detailed analysis of the commercial potential of new invention disclosures collected in the year, and for our promotion of technology externally. I would like to thank the Manchester Enterprise Centre for their close involvement and support of the UMIP Fellows Programme.

Tom Catherall, a student from EPS, commented: “The UMIP fellows experience has been of great benefit to me. I have discovered skills, such as market research and finding company contacts, while honing those that I already had. It is a great way to develop a professional mind-set and to see the bigger picture of technology and its place in the commercial environment. For anyone looking to gain experience at the interface between research and business, I would highly recommend becoming a UMIP Fellow.”

Julio Manuel Rios de la Rosa, a student from MHS, commented: “The programme was crucial in allowing me to have the support to explore the world of university intellectual property, working on a myriad of research topics even outside the scope of my own PhD project. The whole experience has made a huge impact both in my ability to analyse the commercialisation of research and the choice of key problems and how to solve them.”

Lynn Sheppard, Director of Manchester Enterprise Centre, commented: ”It is very exciting to see the UMIP Fellows Programme entering a third year and enabling students interested in enterprise to get hand-on experience of real technology commercialisation cases.”

If you would like to apply to be a UMIP Fellow, you can find out more here. Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 11th September 2015.

For additional information about our Fellow Programme, please contact: Mary Williams on 0161 606 7233 or mary.williams@umip.com


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