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In conversation: Funding and investment accelerates new drug development

Iksuda Therapeutics develops a new generation of drugs which target difficult-to-treat cancers. In 2020, the business received £24,524 from the North East LEP’s COVID-19 Patent Protection Scheme to fund patent filing and renewal costs in multiple countries.

Chief Executive Officer, Dave Simpson, talks about the company’s growth, and how investment has helped accelerate the development of new treatments for patients.

The support from the North East LEP and the COVID-19 Patent Protection Scheme came at a critical phase for us. We operate in a very IP-heavy business so we were very grateful to receive the funding to help us secure our IP during what was a crucial time for our growth.

Around the same time that we had this support from the North East LEP, we were building a strong relationship with investors overseas, particularly in Korea. This work opened up multiple opportunities globally and we’ve recently completed a $47 million funding round led by Korean-based Mirae Asset Capital and Celltrion Inc.

The last few months has seen the business transform as this investment has helped us move closer towards clinical trial and helping patients when they need it most. The pandemic brought a unique set of challenges to the business but with global support from our shareholders the the outcome has been fantastic.

A global business with a North East base

Due to the pandemic, all our engagement and due diligence with our eventual  investors in Korea was undertaken via video call. It’s proof that this can be done remotely, wherever you’re based and that there is appetite for investment in the North East from significant, overseas players.

The company was originally formed by IP Group Plc and Bath University but our UK headquarters and research team are based in the North East, while our pre-clinical/clinical team work out of our Boston US office.

The North East is a good fit for us. The resources we need are readily available here and the region is ambitious. It wants to invest in and support early stage companies – as Iksuda was at the time we moved here – and encourage them to grow here.

We’re located at the Biosphere in Newcastle which is a laboratory and office space, created as a bespoke facility for Iksuda. It’s been a huge benefit to us as a business but also to the region as a whole, which is fast becoming home to a strong health and life sciences cluster.

We currently employ 12 full time staff in Newcastle and the recent investment means that we plan to increase that to 20 in the next few months, and we will be growing our numbers in the USA as well.

Accelerating new treatments for patients

Now, we’re fully focused on entering clinic. It’s not too far away as we anticipate gaining Investigational New Drug (IND) approval at the end of this year for our lead pre-clinical candidate, IKS03, which is a new generation antibody drug conjugate (ADC) which targets B-cell tumours. We then plan to start patient doses in the first quarter of 2022.

Our ambition is to be taking two new drugs each year into clinic.

This latest stage of funding, investment and growth means that we can accelerate our work and help more patients, which is our ultimate aim.

Find out more about Iksuda Therapeutics.