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Business & Economy

LightOx win Innovate UK’s flagship Biomedical Catalyst grant

Newcastle based LightOx announces today that it has been awarded a £1.1m project grant from Innovate UK, for the development of its light activated drug LXD191 to treat oral cancer patients.

LightOx will work with the clinical team at the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre, University of Liverpool – Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine, and Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Working with the Liverpool team LightOx will finalise the drug formulation and clinical trial plans in order to then bring the drug to patients.

The company was awarded the grant to formulate and manufacture their leading drug compound LXD191 to be used to treat oral cancer patients and pre-cancerous lesions that are detected in clinic. The LightOx team will work closely with partners to deliver a “chair-side” treatment for patients suffering from early-stage cancers. The drug which is currently the first of its kind to be developed for oral cancer is applied topically to the cancerous cells and is activated using a specific light source to kill the cancerous cells in the mouth. The treatment provides a minimally invasive alternative to surgery which currently remains the only other available option for patients, and often results in a reduced quality of life for sufferers.

The Biomedical Catalyst is a leading programme of public funding by the UK government awarded through Innovate UK. The scheme is designed to deliver effective support for the many innovative life science companies arising in the UK, enabling businesses and clinical academics to speed-up the translation of scientific ideas into commercial reality.

Dr Sam Whitehouse, chief executive officer of LightOx Ltd, said: “We are delighted to have been successful in winning the Biomedical Catalyst grant from Innovate UK. This scheme is hugely competitive, and we have been through rigorous peer review and interviews over the last year in order to secure the funding. Our technologies, manufacturing processes, route to market and commercial development plans have all been scrutinised through the scheme and we are delighted that Innovate UK and the reviewers agree with our strategies.

We feel that this is a great endorsement of LightOx’s world-class research in the area, and our plans to help oral cancer sufferers using new drugs and techniques. This is the next step in our journey to the wide-scale treatment of the disease where there is currently no medical intervention other than surgery.”

Prof Carrie Ambler, chief scientific officer of LightOx Ltd, said: “This Biomedical Catalyst grant allows LightOx to accelerate our drug development programme through the final pre-clinical phases whilst providing the financial capacity. Allowing us to work with our clinical and patient partners to develop a unique therapeutic solution for patients who suffer from mouth cancers and pre-cancers.”

Dr Caroline McCarthy and Professor Richard Shaw, at the Liverpool Head and Neck Centre said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with LightOx on this project which seeks to develop a novel approach for the treatment of oral epithelial dysplasia. This could provide a minimally invasive treatment option for patients at high risk of developing oral cancer. The prevention of oral cancer is a top priority, and we are committed to delivering world-class research for patient benefit.”