Pharma business seeking £10m for cancer treatment

Ryboquin chief executive Alan Walker, right, with Strathclyde University's Alex Mullen. Picture: Peter Devlin
Ryboquin chief executive Alan Walker, right, with Strathclyde University's Alex Mullen. Picture: Peter Devlin
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A Borders pharmaceutical company is looking to raise up to £10 million this year to fund clinical trials of its cancer gene therapy product, which it says can make chemotherapy much more efficient.

The target has been set out by Ryboquin, headquartered in Selkirk, as it announced a fundraising of £1.3m to start the process of scaling up its offering, which combines two Nobel Prize-winning technologies, and enable it to be tested in a full-scale clinical trial.

The cash injection comprises £800,000 from existing investors, including Scottish Enterprise, business angels Tri Cap and Braveheart, and board members, as well as a range of new sources, combined with a Scottish Enterprise Smart fund research and development grant of about £500,000.

Alan Walker, chief executive of Ryboquin, said: “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.”

He said the product, which is named Ryboquin ECP-102 and is one of a new class of gene therapy drugs, “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”.

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Ryboquin said the scaling up is to be carried out by the University of Strathclyde’s Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences, under Alex Mullen, professor of pharmacy practice.

He said: “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.”

Privately-owned Ryboquin said it is looking to raise a further £7m to £10m from institutional investors this year, “the proceeds of which will be used to fund the phase 1 clinical trial of Ryboquin ECP-102 and for further corporate expansion”.

Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise at Scottish Enterprise, added: “It’s fantastic to be able to support this ambitious Scottish company in scaling up its business, thanks to equity investment from our Scottish Investment Bank co-investment funds, and in taking a potentially game-changing product to clinical trial following the award of one of our Smart [research and development] 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.”