Angels backing 'next penicillin' drug with £2m

A CONSORTIUM of Scottish business angels is to invest almost £2 million in Scotland's first anti- bacterial drug since penicillin.

In what is being hailed as a potential leader in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA, the new technology will be developed for approval next year.

MGB Biopharma, a Scottish start-up targeting infectious diseases, has started work on a new class of antibacterial product.

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The company will announce on Tuesday that it has secured the backing from a syndicate of business angel groups led by Edinburgh-based Archangel Informal Investments and also including TRI Capital, Barwell and Scottish Enterprise's 72m co-investment fund.

John Waddell, chief executive of Archangel, said that not only was the deal one of the biggest in the group's 18-year existence, it was also among the most complex. "By bringing together funding approaching 2m from partners across Scotland, we are backing the further development of this exciting product, which has major potential to cut deaths from infection."

The first-stage development was funded by Strathclyde and Glasgow universities, with further backing through Scottish Enterprise and from royalties from the Leucovorin cancer treatment developed out of University of Strathclyde research in the 1980s.

Professor Colin Suckling, of the University of Strathclyde and the lead investigator in the technology, said: "This is technology which was initiated and developed in Scotland and which is now being funded to grow in Scotland for worldwide benefit."

Dr Miroslav Ravic, chief executive of MGB Biopharma, said: "I believe the last Scottish association with the discovery of a new anti-bacterial class was none other than that of Sir Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin 82 years ago."

The Archangel syndicate, formed in 1992, now comprises more than 100 investor members and invests around 10m a year in fledgling Scottish firms.

Earlier this year it announced that it had raised almost 1m in debt for Livingston-based technology firm Touch Bionics, which produces advanced prosthetic upper body limbs for amputees and has been supported by Archangel investors since it was launched in 2003.