A developer of stem cell organ regenerative medicine which was built on the foundations of a ground breaking operation which saved a ten year old boy’s life has secured funding totalling £3.1m.
Youngster Ciaran Finn-Lynch was critically ill with a rare condition that meant he had a narrow windpipe (trachea) which resulted in difficulties breathing. He had multiple operations, including inserting a metal stent to open his airway but this started to erode and cause life threatening bleeding.
Ciaran is alive and well today as he was the lucky recipient of pioneering transplant surgery in 2010 which combined a donor windpipe with his own stem cells to give him a new trachea.
Liverpool-based Videregen has further developed the cutting edge platform technology which has significantly moved on since Ciaran’s life-saving operation.
The research-institute spin-out, based at Liverpool Science Park, has now received £900,000 in equity funding from The North West Fund for Biomedical managed by SPARK Impact, grant funding to the value of £1.9m from Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) and £300,000 from London Business Angels and other private investors.
This investment will enable extensive manufacture development and clinical research with the aim of being the world’s first commercially available tissue engineered stem cell organ replacement product.
The company’s ground breaking approach begins by removing the cells from a windpipe which has been removed posthumously from a donor. The patient’s own stem cells are then seeded into the decellularised windpipe, multiplying and creating a living organ in a highly controlled laboratory ready to be transplanted into the recipient. This use of the patients own cells greatly reduces the chance that the organ will be rejected.
Dr Steve Bloor, chief executive officer at Videregen, said: “We developed our world-leading technology platform to help address the chronic shortage of organs for transplantation. Our regenerative medicine allows organs to be restored to function and is expected to increase the quality and length of life, and reduce healthcare costs.
“This investment is critical because it will allow us to further develop our product and to carry out formal clinical trials with the ultimate aim of commercialising it. Trachea replacement is the first product from our platform technology, from which our research partner Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research is also developing bowel and liver replacement organs.
“The funding from The North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, Innovate UK and other investors will allow us to demonstrate the potential of the technology with our trachea replacement product. Hopefully this will pave the way for other organ replacements that could make a real difference to thousands of people’s lives.”
Videregen works with the NHS Blood and Transplant centre in Speke and in collaboration with world leading teams at the University College London, the Cell Therapy Catapult and the Royal Free London.
Dr Marc d’Abbadie, investment director at SPARK Impact, said: “The technology developed by Videregen is expected to show clear benefits as an innovative and potentially globally disruptive form of regenerative medicine, and we’re proud to be helping them to achieve their ambitions.
“SPARK Impact has now invested over £20m into 52 biomedical companies that are helping to address some of the healthcare challenges that we face – not only in the UK but globally.”
The North West Fund for Biomedical is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, a substantial pot of money jointly financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank and available to invest in small and medium sized businesses in the North West of England to support their start-up, development and growth.
Ciaran’s story: The first child to receive a stem cell supported trachea implant: (Elliott et al. The Lancet 2012; 380: 994-1000):
Ciaran was born with a condition which leaves sufferers with a narrow windpipe and difficulties breathing. The youngster underwent numerous operations to help improve the condition, including inserting a metal stent to open his airway but this began to erode and cause severe bleeding.
In 2010, Ciaran underwent the pioneering transplant after a donor organ was found in Italy. The donor’s organ was combined with Ciaran’s own stem cells at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and couriered to Great Ormond Street Hospital where the procedure was carried out.
Now, four years on, Ciaran is doing well, he is breathing normally and not exhibiting any signs of rejection.
Videregen Ltd Dr Steve Bloor, CEO, +44 (0) 151 482 9350
Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant, +44 (0) 7880 787185 firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
The North West Fund for Biomedical and SPARK Impact
The £30m North West Fund for Biomedical, managed by SPARK Impact, is a sub-fund of The North West Fund, which is provided by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), to supply equity funding to small and medium sized enterprises in the North West of England.
The North West Fund for Biomedical, which was launched in February 2011, is accessible to a broad range of companies including those developing pharmaceuticals, new diagnostics and medical devices, and those working in the fields of clinical research, contract manufacturing and analytical services. It is open to companies based in, or prepared to relocate to, the North West of England, with 40% of the fund to be invested on Merseyside. The fund has received over 250 applications and made over 50 investments to date. For more information about the fund and how to apply please visit www.thenorthwestfund.co.uk
The North West Fund
The North West Fund is a substantial evergreen investment fund established to provide debt and equity funding (from £50,000 to £2 million) to small and medium sized enterprises based in, or relocating to, the North West of England. The Fund addresses an identified gap in the lending, venture capital and private equity markets. It is one of the largest public sector funds of its kind in Europe and the largest in the UK.
The North West Fund is financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) under the European Commission’s Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative – otherwise known as the JEREMIE programme.
The North West Fund is the umbrella name for the six funds that are available to businesses in the form of debt, equity and quasi-equity. These funds are managed by individual fund managers. Each fund manager has a mandate to invest their allocation into the specific product or sector they manage, by 31st December 2015.
The fund managers are under contract with North West Business Finance Limited (NWBF), which is a private, not for profit company, established to oversee the delivery of The North West Fund.
Between December 2010 and June 2014, The North West Fund has invested over £97m in more than 285businesses. Further funding has also been earmarked to support these businesses as they grow and many more new investments are planned over 2014 and into 2015.
Videregen is a start-up regenerative medicine company created to develop and exploit many years of experience and know-how in the field of tissue decellularisation, regenerative technologies and translation from laboratory to market. The company’s platform technology (developed by Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research) uses decellularised organ scaffolds seeded with the patient’s own cells to create non-immunogenic, regenerative bespoke organ replacements with a focus on key unmet clinical needs in the area of organ transplantation and replacement which represents a substantial burden to healthcare finances. For more information please go to www.videregen.com.
European structure, JEREMIE
The JEREMIE initiative offers EU Member States, through their national or regional Managing Authorities, the opportunity to use part of their European Union (EU) Structural Funds to finance small and medium-sized enterprises by means of equity, loans or guarantees, through a revolving umbrella fund. The initiative was developed by the European Commission and the European Investment Fund, which is part of the European Investment Bank Group.
JEREMIE provides for a range of debt and equity financial tools to obtain the most appropriate allocation of funds according to national, regional or local requirements.
ERDF in the Northwest
ERDF is making a real difference to people and businesses in the North West. The current ERDF programme, which is worth €755 million, is enhancing the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in enterprise and employment.
The EIB is the European Union’s long-term financing institution and, provides long-term finance for capital projects promoting European economic objectives. The EIB made its first loan in the UK in 1973 and since then has lent around €75bn for investment in the UK economy. In the years from 2004 to 2009, the EIB financed investment in the UK totalling some € 23.5bn – GBP 17.5 billion.