Cash boost for cancer drug firm

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A Selkirk-based pharmaceutical company has brought its new cancer-fighting therapy a step closer with a massive funding boost.

Ryboquin Ltd, with headquarters on Selkirk’s Riverside estate, specialises in patented cancer technologies.

The company recently raised £1.3 million, which will take its cancer gene therapy drug - Ryboquin ECP-102, a fusion of two Nobel Prize-winning technologies that has proved effective in treating drug-resistant cancers - that bit closer to being tested in clinical trials.

In its latest funding round, Ryboquin raised £800,000 from existing backers, including Scottish Enterprise,as well as attracting a range of new investors.

This funding has now been supplemented with the award of a Scottish Enterprise SMART fund research and development grant of £495,000.

Ryboquin ECP-102 is described as one of a new class of gene therapy drugs which are designed to make chemotherapy many times more effective in patients.

The funds raised will be used to initiate the process of ‘scaling up’ the product to enable it to be tested in a full scale clinical trial.

Ryboquin has also announced this week that this work is to be carried out by the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, under Professor Alex Mullen, Professor of Pharmacy Practice.

The company also works closely with University College London UCL London.

Ryoboquin plans to raise a further £7m-£10 million from institutional investors during the rest of this year.

Those proceeds will be used to fund the Phase 1 clinical trial of Ryboquin ECP-102, and allow for further corporate expansion.

Commenting on this week’s announcement, Dr Alan Walker, chief executive of Ryboquin, said: “In Ryboquin, we now have a product that we believe could enable traditional chemotherapy to be up to four times as effective in some people and reduce some of the side effects of this treatment in some others.

“This funding will enable us to take Ryboquin from the laboratory to a place where it can be used in hospital for a clinical trial.”

Professor Alex Mullen, Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Strathclyde, added: “This is an exciting opportunity for us to work in partnership and to accelerate the process that might ultimately see this product getting into a clinical environment where it may be of benefit to patients.

“I relish the prospect of co-ordinating the science relating to the ‘scaling up’ of this product in order to get it from the laboratory into clinical trials.”

Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, which helped back the project, also commented. He said: “It is fantastic to be able to support this ambitious Scottish company in scaling up its business, thanks to equity investment from our SIB co-investment funds, and in taking a potentially game-changing product to clinical trial following the award of one of our SMART R&D grants.

“We know that companies that embrace both innovation and exporting grow twice as fast as those that don’t. These are crucial competitive advantages, not just for Ryboquin, but for the long-term success of the Scottish economy.”