Lanarkshire life sciences firm ILC Therapeutics teams up with pharma firm to accelerate medicine for dogs

A Lanarkshire-based biotech firm is strengthening its presence in the animal healthcare market, where it sees strong potential, by inking a tie-up that it says will progress its product to treat a condition causing itchy skin in dogs.

ILC Therapeutics, which has its headquarters at BioCity by the M8 near Chapelhall, has revealed that it has signed the research and development partnership with FTSE 250 firm Dechra Pharmaceuticals that will see the duo develop the Scottish firm’s Caniferon offering to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs. The disease is described as the most common form of eczema affecting the creatures as well as humans, with the relevant global canine market believed to exceed $1 billion (£805 million).

ILC calls itself a pioneer in the discovery and development of a “ground-breaking” new class of hybrid interferon drugs aiming to meet “major unmet medical needs” in virology, oncology, dermatology, neurology and more. It notes that Alfacyte, which it says is its lead hybrid interferon drug, is currently in development as an anti-viral medicine for the treatment of upper respiratory tract viral infections including Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.

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The firm is led by chief executive Dr Alan Walker, a former vice-president of global commercial operations at Scottish pharma company ProStrakan (which later rebranded as Kyowa Kirin) who has overseen a number of international mergers and acquisitions in the biotechnology sector. He said: “While ILC’s main focus to date has been around human health, the partnership with Dechra is a validation of our technology and the potential to develop products in the animal health market. The industry as a whole has experienced a pandemic-driven increase in pet ownership and pet care, and we see considerable growth prospects for the product.”

ILC Therapeutics activity at its headquarters at BioCity by the M8 near Chapelhall. Picture: Stewart Attwood.ILC Therapeutics activity at its headquarters at BioCity by the M8 near Chapelhall. Picture: Stewart Attwood.
ILC Therapeutics activity at its headquarters at BioCity by the M8 near Chapelhall. Picture: Stewart Attwood.

Dechra is a global specialist in veterinary pharmaceuticals and related products, focused on the development, manufacture, marketing and sales of endocrinology and topical dermatology offerings for vets worldwide. It has almost 2,000 staff, and reported revenue of £681.8m in its latest financial year.


Its boss Ian Page commented on it teaming up with ILC, stating: “We are pleased to enter into this research agreement in a therapeutic sector of the market which is a key area of focus for [us]. Although at a relatively early stage of research, we see real possibilities for the technology to lead to a full development programme to add to our exciting pipeline.”

It was stated in April that ILC was expected to embark on a Series A investment round over the following 12 months, with a view to a possible post-investment round stock market flotation, having previously raised £3.5m in 2021 in a move that included participation by St Andrews-based impact investment firm Eos, Scottish Enterprise, and Los Angeles-based lawyer and investor Robert Kopple. An additional £2m round led by existing investors was completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Furthermore, ILC is chaired by Peter Bains, who brings more than three decades of leadership experience in the biopharmaceutical industry including senior strategic and operational roles, and a 20-year career with GSK. Dr Walker last month said: “We have achieved significant milestones over the last 12 months, which have enabled us to move rapidly towards our next phase of growth.”

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