Path-breaking immuno-oncology spinout Macomics is developing novel therapeutics to modulate the activity of macrophages, increasing the body’s immune defence against tumours in cancer sufferers.
Cancer cells are known to be able to evade destruction by the immune system, and tumour associated macrophages (TAMs) are a key component of this immuno-suppressive and pro-tumoral ecosystem. The ability to modulate TAMs would alter the tumour microenvironment and thus enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer.
Professor Jeffrey Pollard, Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, is a pioneer of the study of TAMs and his research team was the first to demonstrate that they promote tumour progression and malignancy. The ground-breaking research he was conducting attracted future Macomics co-founder Dr Luca Cassetta, who was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the time, and in 2013 the team transplanted Professor Pollard’s laboratory from New York to The Queen’s Medical Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh. The move proved pivotal, as access to the University’s state-of-the-art research facilities including histology, imaging, flow cytometry and multiomics, enabled the team to successfully profile human TAMs and identify several targets for the first time.
The company formation journey
It was at this crucial stage in Professor Pollard and Dr Cassetta’s research that they started considering the prospect of commercialisation, and they began discussions with Edinburgh Innovations. Neither founder had experience of forming a company and Dr Cassetta admits that while the idea had been in their minds, “the reality of creating a company was quite different, involving shares, negotiations, lawyers, plans, due diligence and a very rigorous process to evaluate the business plan. These are all aspects of company formation which need to be considered and understood. They take time, patience and a degree of flexibility.”
The Edinburgh Innovations team were on hand to provide tailored expertise at every stage, assisting the founders with licensing technology, consultancy contracts, patent submissions, event promotion, as well as overall project management of the company formation process. This support empowered the academic founders to persist with forming Macomics, and the rigorous process ensured that the company was built on solid foundations and would serve the aims of all involved long term. Edinburgh Innovations continues to support Macomics as an engaged shareholder, with the position managed by Old College Capital. For more information about how the University manages its shareholdings in early-stage companies, read about OCC Holdings.
Investing in our future
Macomics harnesses world-leading expertise in macrophage biology, which in combination with the company’s proprietary technology will provide insights into TAMs and the tumour microenvironment, and lead to therapeutic discoveries that will increase the body’s immune defence against tumours across various cancers.
In service of this aim the company has secured an investment £3.2 million in a seed round led by Epidarex Capital, a transatlantic life science VC that invests in early-stage, high-growth companies in under-ventured markets, along with the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
The macrophage-based approach that Macomics is pioneering has significant potential in the treatment of cancer, as recent deals in the tumour-associated macrophage area indicate. We look forward to working with the team to support Macomics’ growth and to help it realise the potential of its world-class science.
–Dr Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital & Investor Director at Macomics.
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