Oxford Spin-out ReOx Ltd to Develop New Drug Therapies

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30th August 2003

Isis' latest spin-out company, ReOx Ltd, is set to develop potential therapies for a huge range of diseases, from heart disease to stroke, using world-leading expertise in biology and chemistry. The company was spun out this summer and has raised £2 million in capital investment.

ReOx Ltd

ReOx Ltd is a drug discovery company whose technology is based on the body’s biological response to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) and in particular the mechanism by which the activity of the master regulator, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), is activated. The company will build on the research of the academics involved to develop therapies for a range of diseases in which it could be beneficial to regulate the body’s response to oxygen.

The company’s technology is based on the research of Professors Peter Ratcliffe, Patrick Maxwell and Chris Pugh, working at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, into the enzymes that regulate HIF, combined with the expertise of Professor Christopher Schofield, a chemist, on molecular inhibitors of these enzymes. The idea is that drugs can be developed which act against enzymes controlling HIF in such a way as to control beneficially the availability of oxygen in the body.

The technology is the culmination of over 10 years of pioneering research into this field carried out by the four professors at Oxford. In May 2002, Professor Ratcliffe was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society for the ‘far-reaching importance’ of his work in this area and its potential for new treatments of major diseases.

Of the £2 million raised by ReOx Ltd, £180,000 was invested by Oxford University’s Challenge Seed Fund, through a placing of new shares by Evolution Beeson Gregory, the investment banking arm of the Evolution Group plc. ReOx Ltd will use these funds to continue drug discovery programmes, in particular validating drug targets using proprietary IP as well as designing, screening and testing potential new drugs.

Tom Hockaday, Isis Executive Director, said: “ReOx Ltd has been formed by some of the UK’s foremost scientists who have consistently led the field in this very exciting area for novel therapeutic treatments. This is a good example of one of the many activities which support the Lambert Report’s observation that Oxford University has one of the best technology transfer offices in the country.”

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