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DefiniGEN to expand in Cambridge and US after £3.25m funding round involving BGF

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Human cell product specialist DefiniGEN has closed a £3.25million funding round that will help it expand in Cambridge and abroad.

The University of Cambridge spin-out attracted interest from BGF, which is putting in £2million, alongside support from its existing consortium of investors, led by 24Haymarket.

DefiniGEN technology
DefiniGEN technology

DefiniGEN, based at Babraham Research Campus, is focused on highly predictive disease cell models for preclinical research and drug development.

It uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), applying proprietary techniques to differentiate these into specific cell types and deploying gene-editing tools using CRISPR/Cas9 tehnology to insert disease mutations.

Its optiDIFF technology builds on the work of chief scientific officer Prof Ludovic Vallier, of the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, and is designed to help improve the success rate for pharma companies.

The company’s portfolio includes iPSC-derived human hepatocytes - liver cells - useful for pharma companies exploring liver disease, the fifth most common cause of death in the UK.

Dr Marcus Yeo, CEO of DefiniGEN
Dr Marcus Yeo, CEO of DefiniGEN

Dr Marcus Yeo, co-founder and CEO of DefiniGEN, said: “Our technology platform harnesses iPSC technology to develop models that are transformational for drug discovery. We have gained significant commercial momentum in recent years, and this investment will be a significant driver of continued growth for DefiniGEN. We’re thrilled to be working with BGF, who understand the complex issues that we are addressing and are committed to helping us accelerate the next phase of growth.”

BGF has invested more than £2.2billion in more than 330 companies since being set up in 2011, making it the most active investor in the UK.

The funding will help bolster DefiniGEN’s presence in the US, where it has gained strong commercial traction, while expanding its Cambridge facility and broadening its gene-editing capabilities.

DefiniGEN technology
DefiniGEN technology

Lucy Edwardes-Jones, investor at BGF, said: “DefiniGEN has a strong technology platform, differentiated IP, significant commercial validation and a platform that we believe is ready to support strong growth.

“From an investment perspective BGF has been active in supporting the UK’s life sciences industry, approaching 30 investments completed and £100m of capital deployed.

“DefiniGEN is a great example of a company that facilitates the process of discovering, developing and bringing much needed drugs to market. The market need is clearly emerging, and we believe there is a significant opportunity for DefiniGEN’s technology in the coming years.”

Paul Tselentis, CEO of 24Haymarket, added: “We are pleased to reinvest in DefiniGEN as the company accelerates the commercialisation of its iPSC platform in the UK and internationally. We are excited to work alongside our new partners at BGF and welcome them onboard.”

DefinGEN also produces intestinal organoids and pancreatic beta cells.

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