Fife life sciences firm Pneumagen nets £4m to develop product to tackle Covid-19

The Novel Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. Picture: AP.The Novel Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. Picture: AP.
The Novel Coronavirus Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. Picture: AP. | Other 3rd Party
A Fife-based firm specialising in treating infectious diseases has announced a £4 million investment to allow the clinical development of its lead product for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

Pneumagen (Holdings) said the investment has been led by Thairm Bio with additional funding from the Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), and will progress its lead candidate Neumifil into a clinical trial for Covid-19.

It said Neumifil is a first-in-class Carbohydrate Binding Module (mCBM), generated using the company’s proprietary GlycoTarge platform. It is being developed for the universal treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) caused by influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus, and now coronaviruses including Sars-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19.

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“Neumifil has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of RTIs, providing patients total protection against respiratory pathogens including emerging viruses with pandemic potential,” the Fife firm said.

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Pneumagen chief executive Douglas Thomson welcomed Thairm’s support of the firm’s “ambitious” development programme to test the efficacy of Neumifil against Covid-19 in humans, planned in the first half of 2021.

He added: “The continued support from the Scottish Investment Bank will ensure that this is achieved and will further support Neumifil as a universal drug for RTIs that now includes Covid-19.”

Mark Bamforth at Thairm said: “We are pleased to be able to back the development of Pneumagen’s exciting portfolio in respiratory tract infections. We believe that this approach could provide particular benefit as a protection pan-viral treatment for RTIs including pandemic viruses, such as Covid-19.”

SIB director Kerry Sharp said the development of effective Covid-19 treatments is crucial as it could take several months, or even years, for a vaccine to be approved. “The positive results of Pneumagen’s early studies are an encouraging step forward. With our continued support, we hope the company can develop a drug that will help protect people from the current pandemic and any future outbreaks.”

Grant award

Meanwhile, a technology company based in rural Perthshire has been awarded a research grant from InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, to develop artificial intelligence to unite, analyse and present data from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Two Worlds is one of the successful applicants – out of about 8,600 – to a £40m fund created to support business-led innovation in response to global disruption – and help policy makers and researchers with more joined-up data. The firm is working with a team including epidemiologists, mathematical modelling specialists and the Department of Computer Science at Imperial College, in tandem with intelligent analytic software.

Two Worlds director Richard Harris said: “By creating a single point for analysing, exploring and visualising all that data, we aim to help improve the quality, timeliness and effectiveness of public policy in response to emergencies such as the current pandemic. Funding right now also helps us to grow the company at a time when other projects are being significantly delayed.”

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