Orbit Discovery – a new spinout from the University of Oxford – has raised seed funding to commercialise technology which will help to identify targeted, affordable therapeutic drugs known as peptides.
Oxford Sciences Innovation, the £320m investment company established to provide capital and scaling expertise to Oxford spinouts, is the lead investor in the new company. Other investors include the Oxford Technology and Innovations EIS Fund led by George Robinson and the OT(S)EIS fund managed by Oxford Technology management, which has been making science investments around Oxford for 30 years.
Orbit Discovery will establish a screening platform to identify robust peptide drug candidates for both internal industry drug discovery programs and via collaborative research. The technology was developed at Oxford’s Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine by Professor Graham Ogg and Professor Terence Rabbitts.
Orbit CEO Alex Batchelor said: ‘Peptides offer several advantages as drugs. They are small enough to be delivered in tablet form, are highly specific and have safe degradation products. Recent synthetic improvements to peptides have opened up the potential for discovery of drugs for more diseases, but the technologies available for screening have not supported these improvements. Our technology directly addresses this need so we will be screening for active peptides in a range of chronic disease areas.’
Peptide drugs have the potential to provide the highly targeted treatments of more expensive biologic drugs but at a lower price. This makes it possible to treat large patient populations affordably, and to treat diseases that traditional biologics can’t address. The Orbit technology provides screening tools that support the discovery of peptides for a wide range of disease types.
The University’s commercialisation company Isis Innovation assisted the founders by filing patents, building the business plan and marketing the opportunity.
Isis Innovation managing director Linda Naylor said: ‘Oxford spinout Orbit Discovery will identify molecules for drug development programmes to treat a wide range of patients and conditions.’