Aberdeen life sciences firm Elasmogen nets six-figure funding boost

A spin-out from the University of Aberdeen that describes itself as a drug discovery pioneer has won two six-figure grants totalling £374,000 to support programs for Covid-19 and oncology.

The firm highlights the 'world-class' drug discovery effort going on in Aberdeen. Picture: Lewis J Houghton.

Elasmogen in April secured £143,000 from the Scottish Government to use its drug discovery platform to accelerate the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics for Covid-19, a joint undertaking with the University of Aberdeen’s Scottish Biologics Facility. This key grant facilitated the re-opening of the company’s laboratories.

Chief executive Caroline Barelle said: “We were caught up in the university buildings’ closures, and so all work in our labs stopped at the end of March. The timing of the lockdown was incredibly frustrating as our data was beginning to show such exciting promise. Everything changed in late April with the success of our Covid-19 funding, which allowed us to not only help in the fight against this pandemic – but meant we could open up our labs again.

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Elasmogen highlights 20-plus patents granted globally. Picture: contributed.

“Our Covid-19 work is progressing very well and we already have a panel of a new class of binders to the business end of the virus, the spike protein.” Barelle added that these new molecules will be developed with others into sensitive and rapid diagnostics – like a “pregnancy test” but for Covid-19 – as well as new therapeutics to fight the disease.

The second award is a UK Research and Innovation Continuity Grant of £231,000 providing additional support for Elasmogen’s joint undertaking with Almac Discovery and its labs in Edinburgh and Northern Ireland.

Almac synthesises cancer-killing chemical “warheads” that are combined with Elasmogen’s cancer-seeking capabilities, originating in the immune system of sharks, to more effectively destroy hard-to-treat solid tumours.

Barelle said: “Whilst the fight against Covid-19 is happening now, the fight against cancer will continue long after Covid-19 is under control; and so it is wonderful that we can now use this innovate funding to bring the rest of the team back on site and continue our cancer programs.”

“The team have worked so hard to achieve these successes out of what could have been a company-ending break. Everyone knows Aberdeen as the oil and gas city but often forget that there is a world-class drug discovery effort going on in companies across the city too.”

Stephen Logan of Opportunity North East, stated: “Elasmogen is one of the region’s high-growth life sciences companies specialising in developing novel biotherapeutics. The action and investment by ONE and partners in the life sciences cluster in Aberdeen to accelerate collaborative innovation and commercialisation will help to anchor companies like Elasmogen in the region long term.”

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