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Reflection Therapeutics boost for motor neurone sufferers





Dr Timothy Newton, CEO of Reflection Therapeutics
Dr Timothy Newton, CEO of Reflection Therapeutics

Reflection Therapeutics, the Babraham Research Campus-based developer of cell therapy against neuro-inflammation, has started a major Innovate Smart Grant project co-funded by Innovate UK .

Reflection Therapeutics’ mission is to develop a novel way to protect the nervous system against motor neurone disease . In contrast to existing anti-inflammatory therapies (particularly unsuitable for elderly patients), Reflection Therapeutics’ radical new technology guides anti-inflammatory cell therapies directly to the affected tissue – the previous method involved an injection into the spinal cord – thereby enabling the therapy to work faster and more effectively.

The goal of the 18-month project, called “‘Degen-lock’ – a novel way of protecting the nervous system in motor neurone disease”, is to pave the way for the manufacturing of the new therapy.

The award is a huge step for Reflection Therapeutics, which has made considerable progress following participation in the 2019/2020 Accelerate@Babraham bioincubator programme and subsequent support from London fund Deep Science Ventures.

Dr Timothy Newton, CEO of Reflection Therapeutics, said: “We are extremely pleased to begin this work with the support of Innovate UK to further develop our innovative new amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)therapy. ALS is a devastating disease, and at Reflection Therapeutics we feel a sense of urgency to provide meaningful and novel treatment options for patients and their families .

Mission Therapeutics’ work in the lab
Mission Therapeutics’ work in the lab

“This project, carried out at the Babraham Research Campus , will allow us to develop and test our prototype therapy, allowing us to reach critical pre-clinical milestones on the way towards clinical development.”

The Innovate Smart Grant is crucial in enabling Reflection Therapeutics to further develop its technology and in doing so make the transition from lab research to the development of a pharmaceutical industry approved product, ready for clinical trials.

Dr Newton added: “Previous anti-inflammatory approaches include small molecule drugs or cell therapies that circulate around the whole body in the blood and target inflammation in many tissues, with relatively little getting through the blood brain barrier. A key concern is that to deliver large concentrations of drug to compensate for this would result in compromising overall immune function in patients.

“To get round this issue previous untargetted cell therapies have been injected with multiple injections into the spinal cord, and in these cases, whilst they are inside the tissue, they still can't precisely target the damaged areas within the central nervous system.”

Accelerate@Babraham 2019, the final five teams at The Cambridge Building on Babraham Research Campus, with chief executive Derek Jones (centre, standing) and in the red Dr Karolina Zapadka. Reflection Therapeutics are centre, front row. Picture: Keith Heppell
Accelerate@Babraham 2019, the final five teams at The Cambridge Building on Babraham Research Campus, with chief executive Derek Jones (centre, standing) and in the red Dr Karolina Zapadka. Reflection Therapeutics are centre, front row. Picture: Keith Heppell

The project (costing £464,042 in total, co-funded by existing Reflection Therapeutics investors and Innovate UK) will see the Babraham Research Campus team collaborating with the Guy’s Hopital-based Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the world-leading centre designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in advanced manufacturing therapeutic products.

Commenting on the grant award, Dr Karolina Zapadka, head of the Babraham Research Campus Accelerator, said: “Having closely followed Reflection Therapeutics’ rapid progress from the beginning of the Accelerate@Babraham programme in September 2019, we are delighted that it has secured this prestigious award. The Accelerate@Babraham programme develops and nurtures young life science ventures and science concepts via our model of providing not only access to equipped communal laboratories, but also a comprehensive programme of mentoring, business support and introductions to investors. This all-round programme really equips our start-ups with the skills required to maximise the opportunities presented to them; Reflection Therapeutics is a great example of a company doing just that.”

There are around 5,000 people in the UK with a motor neurone disease. The best current treatment has a survival advantage of three months for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).



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