Which biotechs will be stealing the show this year? These are some of the most exciting biotech companies in London right now.
London is undoubtedly one of the biggest hubs for biotech companies in Europe. The British capital was the one that received the most life sciences investment in Europe in 2017, by far. Still, it has a lot of competition from the other two cities in the ‘golden triangle’ — Oxford and Cambridge.
In recent years, the city has seen big acquisitions of biotech companies such as Nightstar Therapeutics or Heptares. With cash flowing into the city’s life sciences scene, many companies in London are at the forefront of innovation. Of the many firms based in the city, these are the 10 biotech companies in London you need to know.
Founded in 2015, Orchard Therapeutics is developing multiple gene therapy candidates to treat rare genetic conditions. Three of them are being tested in pivotal clinical trials and could soon receive approval. Last year, the company did an IPO on the Nasdaq that set the company value at over €1B.
Since April last year, Orchard has been in charge of selling Strimvelis, a gene therapy for the rare immune disorder ADA-SCID originally developed by the pharma GSK. While GSK had only managed to sell the therapy once, in 2018 Orchard reported €1.9M in sales from Strimvelis in Europe.
A spin-off of University College London, Autolus focuses on the development of next-generation CAR-T therapy. The company aims to reduce the life-threatening side effects of this kind of treatment by killing cancer cells without affecting the healthy T cells required to protect the body from infections and other external threats.
Autolus is now running multiple clinical trials and first results are expected next year. After a Nasdaq IPO in 2018, the company is now valued at over €1B. Quite impressive given that it was only founded in 2014.
Founded in 2011, ReViral aims to develop the first antiviral drug against the respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Though it usually leads to mild cold symptoms, the virus can be deadly in infants and the elderly.
The antiviral drug has proved capable of reducing the viral load and the infection symptoms in adults during a phase IIa clinical trial. After raising a €47M Series B round last year, the company is now ready to test the drug candidate on children.
Cell Medica develops next-generation CAR-T cell cancer therapy that engineers a type of immune cell called natural killer T (NKT) cells, instead of the T cells commonly used for this type of treatment. The company aims to use the ability of NKT cells to better infiltrate solid tumors to extend the use of this kind of therapy beyond blood cancer.
Founded in 2005, the company has recently released promising preliminary results from an ongoing clinical trial in people with neuroblastoma. In the preclinical pipeline, Cell Medica has several treatment candidates where the cells are sourced from donors rather than the patient, which could reduce the cost and complication of manufacturing the treatment.
Founded in 2008, MiNA Therapeutics uses small activating RNA (saRNA) molecules to activate the production of multiple proteins that enhance the performance of existing cancer drugs.
Its lead candidate is being tested in phase I/II clinical trials in combination with the liver cancer drug sorafenib. Preliminary results have shown that the treatment was able to induce a complete tumor response in some patients, a very positive but rare outcome in patients with liver cancer.
A spin-out of GSK founded in 2011, Autifony Therapeutics develops treatments for disorders of the nervous system. The company targets ion channel molecules that play a key role in the function of neurons.
Autifony is currently running two phase I clinical trials, one in schizophrenia and the other in fragile X syndrome. Preliminary results in healthy volunteers seem to indicate the drug has an effect on the nervous system that could help patients with schizophrenia.
Virion Biotherapeutics is developing ‘universal antivirals’ for respiratory viruses that cause colds and flu. These drugs, consisting of an RNA molecule delivered within viral particles, could block the replication of multiple types of viruses at once while preventing resistance against the antiviral treatment.
Founded in 2017, the company is currently running two preclinical programs, one looking at the treatment of infections and another at their prevention. The next step will be to test its approach in humans.
Founded in 2015, Freeline Therapeutics aims to treat chronic diseases with gene therapy. The company has developed a technology that can deliver genetic material to the liver to provide a functional copy that makes up for a mutated gene.
The company is testing its first candidate in a phase I/II clinical trial for people with hemophilia B. Preliminary results have shown that a single dose is able to stop bleeds for at least 9 months. Another phase I/II trial in the rare condition Fabry disease is expected to start soon.
GammaDelta Therapeutics develops cell therapies for cancer using a rare type of immune T cells called gamma delta T cells that can better infiltrate and kill solid tumors. The technology is still in the preclinical stage.
A spin-out of King’s College London, GammaDelta signed a €90M deal with Takeda just a year after its foundation in 2016. Last year, the company acquired the Portuguese company Lymphact to get hold of its cancer cell therapy technology.
This article was originally published on April 2018 and has since been edited and updated.
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