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Maxion Therapeutics in £13m Series A boost for KnotBody platform





Biotechnology company Maxion Therapeutics, established in 2020 by CEO Dr John McCafferty, has completed a £13million Series A finance round to accelerate the development of antibody drugs treating ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors.

Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder, left, and Dr John McCafferty, CEO and co-founder outside the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder, left, and Dr John McCafferty, CEO and co-founder outside the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Keith Heppell

The round was led by LifeArc Ventures, including Monograph Capital and BGF as equal participants.

Maxion Therapeutics, which is based at the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus, is developing novel biologics targeting ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) via its proprietary, patent-protected KnotBody platform.

Ion channels and GPCRs are critical cell surface proteins involved in a wide range of previously untreatable or poorly-treated diseases, including autoimmune conditions and chronic pain.

While multiple small molecule drugs have been developed against ion channels, there are no approved antibody drugs addressing this target class, despite the many advantages of antibodies. Antibodies have the benefit of greater specificity, a superior safety profile, and the ability to engineer their properties using Dr McCafferty’s phage display technology.

The KnotBody platform combines the excellent drug properties of antibodies with the functional activity of knottins – naturally occurring cysteine-rich miniproteins which modulate ion channels and GPCRs but have poor drug-like properties.

The Maxion Therapeutics team at the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Martin Bond
The Maxion Therapeutics team at the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Martin Bond

These knottins are fused onto the surface of antibodies, and the resulting ‘KnotBodies’ combine the functional activity of knottins with the excellent drug properties of antibodies. Maxion’s early R&D efforts have yielded KnotBodies to several therapeutically relevant targets, which will be developed as selective and long-acting first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics.

Dr McCafferty has an astonishing background of success in the biotech sector, having co-founded CAT (acquired by AstraZeneca for £700m) and IONTAS (acquired by FairJourney Biologics). At CAT, Dr McCafferty co-invented antibody phage display, the technology used to discover the world’s best-selling drug, Humira, and the subject of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Maxion’s CSO and co-founder is Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt (also co-founder of IONTAS) who, along with Dr McCafferty, invented the KnotBody platform.

Dr John McCafferty, Maxion Therapeutics CEO and co-founder, left, with Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr John McCafferty, Maxion Therapeutics CEO and co-founder, left, with Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder. Picture: Keith Heppell

Dr McCafferty said: “Until now, ion channels have been a blind spot for antibody therapeutics. Our KnotBody technology gives Maxion the opportunity to address this neglected target class and enable improved treatment of diseases driven by ion channels and GPCRs. We look forward to working with our investors to expand our exciting pipeline.”

Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder of Maxion Therapeutics, said: “Maxion’s KnotBody technology combines the power of millions of years of knottin evolution with state-of-the-art antibody engineering technologies to overcome long-standing challenges in ion channel and GPCR drug discovery. We are grateful for our investors’ support as we work towards developing life-changing therapeutics for diseases with high unmet need.”

Maxion Therapeutics is based at the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Martin Bond
Maxion Therapeutics is based at the Moneta Building on Babraham Research Campus. Picture: Martin Bond

As part of the financing Dr Sohaib Mir (senior investment principal at LifeArc Ventures), Dr Tim Funnell (partner at Monograph Capital), and Lucy Edwardes Jones (investor at BGF) will join Maxion’s board of directors alongside Dr McCafferty and Dr Karatt Vellatt, as well as Dr Tom Weaver who is a non-executive director.

The company is currently developing its KnotBody pipeline, including candidates with significant potential to be first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics.



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