Edinburgh spinout Invizius, whose innovative technology could save kidney patients’ lives, has raised £2.75 million in a new funding deal.
The EI client has secured funding from a consortium of investors including Mercia Asset Management, whose partnership with the University has been nurtured by EI, and the University’s venture investment fund, Old College Capital, which is managed by EI.
Invizius stems from years of research by Dr Andy Herbert and his team in the University’s School of Chemistry. In May 2018 he co-founded Invizius and became the copmany’s Chief Technology Officer.
“This investment allows us to take a big step towards our goal to bring much needed improvement to the lives of three million dialysis patients and we are delighted to have won the backing of a consortium of smart, well-funded investors.”
– Dr Andy Herbert, co-founder and CTO of Invizius.
The researchers believe they have found a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among patients undergoing long-term dialysis.
Dialysis is a procedure to remove waste products and excess fluid from the blood, when the kidneys have stopped working properly. It commonly involves diverting blood through an external filter to be cleansed of toxins.
The problem is that the patient’s immune system sees the dialysis filter as a foreign body, creating inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system over time.
Invizius has developed H-Guard, which acts as an “invisibility cloak” for the filter, effectively hiding it from the immune system.
The latest investment will support Invizius as it conducts further testing as well as preparing for the next stage including pre-clinical trials.
“This substantial investment reflects the great promise we’ve seen in Invizius from the initial identification of novel science. Old College Capital is pleased to be part of the consortium backing this technology, which holds so much potential for so many people, and Edinburgh Innovations looks forward continuing to support the Invizius team.”
– Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburgh Innovations.
Despite improvements in dialysis therapy, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for dialysis patients.
Almost half of all dialysis patients die from cardiovascular complications, and life expectancy on dialysis is just one-third of that for the general population.
Invizius’s H-Guard product is a powerful anti-inflammatory used during the normal priming procedure to coat the filter surface. Upon contact with the patient’s blood, it makes the surface seem less foreign to the patient’s immune system.
Unlike some other proposed solutions, H-Guard does not shut down the immune system but instead effectively hides the device from it to prevent an immune response.
There is potential to use the technology with other devices such as heart and lung machines, stents and grafts, or in organ and cell transplants.
With EI’s support, the University signed a partnership agreement with Mercia in November 2017, which included hosting Mercia staff on campus and Mercia earmarking funding for investment in opportunities developed by the University.
Mercia made an initial investment in Invizius of £500,000 in April last year. The latest investment consortium includes Downing Ventures, the Scottish Investment Bank and the University’s Old College Capital.