University of Glasgow spin-out raises £9m to work on treatment for 'neglected' tennis elbow

A University of Glasgow spin-out specialising in tendon disease has secured a funding injection of almost £9 million to advance its technology in one of the biggest deals of its kind.

Causeway Therapeutics said it had raised £8.75m from investors to conduct an international phase two clinical trial of its lead compound, TenoMIR in lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as tennis elbow. Professor Declan Doogan, an experienced pharmaceutical executive, biotech entrepreneur and an alumnus of the University of Glasgow Medical School, led the round of investment which included existing investors Mediqventures, Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow University Holdings.

Doogan, who will become the firm’s executive chairman, said: “One in ten people will suffer from tendinopathy during their lifetime. There is no approved therapy for tendinopathy - this is a neglected area with a high degree of unmet medical need. TenoMIR has shown positive effects in the first human trial. These phase one results were truly impressive and gave me the confidence to lead this financing round personally and to take an active role in the company’s operations.”

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Causeway’s co-founder and chief executive, Derek Gilchrist, another Glasgow alumnus, said: “Based on our previous studies, we were confident that TenoMIR would improve symptoms associated with tendinopathy. We were therefore encouraged by the signs of efficacy observed in phase 1b trial. As a company, we’re excited by the potential of TenoMIR; however, as someone with tennis elbow, I also understand its importance from the perspective of a future patient. Securing investment allows Causeway to continue TenoMiR’s development in a phase two multi-centre trial in the US, Netherlands, and the UK, which is a significant step towards TenoMiR’s ultimate approval for the treatment of tendinopathy.”

The development team led by Gilchrist is based primarily in Glasgow but supported by an experienced board of experienced drug developers in the UK and the US.

Professor Iain McInnes, Causeway co-founder and vice principal and head of college of medical, veterinary and life sciences at the University of Glasgow, and a world leading expert in rheumatological and musculoskeletal diseases, added: “It is gratifying to see the progress this team has made since the company was spun out of the university. The quality of the science and medical execution is superb, and we are proud that this University of Glasgow spin-out is showing such encouraging results. Causeway has been supported by the University and its IP and commercialisation team by both grants and equity, starting with a 2015 Scottish Enterprise proof of concept grant and continuing to GU Holdings’ participation in this recent equity raise. It is my hope that Causeway can become a pillar of a Glasgow start-up ecosystem and a Scottish biotech unicorn.”

Professor Neal Millar, professor of orthopaedics at the University of Glasgow and Causeway Therapeutics co-founder, personally led the successful first-phase trial and will be principal investigator for the upcoming clinical trial which will be conducted in the UK, the Netherlands and the US. He said: “We have designed this phase two trial to be acceptable as one of two randomised and well-controlled trials which will be required to register TenoMIR as a new drug.”



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