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Spin-out Pheno Therapeutics gets funds for MS treatment

Siddharthan Chandran: ‘opportunity to meet an urgent need’

Novel treatments that may reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) will be investigated by a new drug-discovery company spun out from the University of Edinburgh.

Backed by Series A funding of £5 million over its first three years, Pheno Therapeutics will search for new drugs that aim to repair damage to the nervous system and significantly improve patients’ debilitating symptoms. 

Building on original research by Professors Siddharthan Chandran and Neil Carragher of the University of Edinburgh, the company aims to develop new therapies for MS by identifying novel molecules that cause the body to repair or replace the damaged myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells.

Pheno Therapeutics is supported by Advent Life Sciences, the London-based venture capital firm; the Scottish Investment Bank, with backing from the Scottish Government through the Scottish Growth Scheme; and independent medical research charity LifeArc. Their investment is subject to the company meeting certain milestones.

Professor Chandran said: “There are no interventions for people with later stage multiple sclerosis, which is a devastating and debilitating condition.

“The opportunity for this company is to bring new and repurposed therapeutics to clinical trials and, by doing so, meet an urgent and currently unmet need.”

MS affects more than 100,000 people in the UK and 2.5 million worldwide. It causes a wide range of symptoms including problems with movement, vision, sensation and balance.

Current treatments mainly focus on the immune system aspects of the disease and reduce the severity and frequency of relapses.

Everyone involved is focused on driving the science forward,

– George Baxter, Edinburgh Innovations

The formation of Pheno Therapeutics has been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, which helped bring together the scientific and clinical expertise in partnership with Advent Life Sciences to launch the company.

Dr George Baxter, CEO of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “Everyone involved is focused on driving the science forward, and we look forward to supporting the team as momentum continues to build, ultimately offering the promise of new treatments.”

Dr David Holbrook, head of LifeArc’s Seed Fund, said: “In the founders of Pheno Therapeutics and their research to induce myelin repair, we saw an appealing opportunity, particularly given the existing clinical needs in progressive MS.”

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