LifeArc Seed Fund makes £1.5million investment in Caldan Therapeutics to develop novel treatments for metabolic diseases

August 29, 2019

LifeArc, a UK-based medical research charity, announced today it is investing £1.5million into Caldan Therapeutics Limited, a company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of metabolic diseases based on original work. Focusing on activators of free fatty acid receptors (GPR120) implicated in the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the investment is part of a £2million fund raise to support the optimisation of a lead candidate to progress to later pre-clinical development. LifeArc is joined in this investment by founding investor Epidarex Capital.

Dr David Holbrook, LifeArc’s Head of Seed Fund, said: “As specialists in translating early-stage research in drug discovery and diagnostics into patient benefit, LifeArc, through its Seed Fund, is delighted to be investing in Caldan to progress potentially groundbreaking new treatments in the NASH space for which there is significant patient need. As NASH progresses it can result in excessive scarring in the liver (fibrosis), a natural response to injury, which can lead to liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.”

NASH, a progressive form of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is now considered to be one of the major causes of cirrhosis of the liver; its prevalence among UK adults is estimated as high as 1 in 8 people. This could present a huge burden on the NHS in the future, with an increasing number of people requiring care for cirrhosis or needing a liver transplant.[i]

Mark Payton, CEO of Caldan Therapeutics Limited, commented: “We are delighted to welcome LifeArc as a new investor in Caldan. This will allow us to translate the work on free fatty acid receptors initiated in the laboratories of the Company’s founders Prof Graeme Milligan of Glasgow University and Prof Trond Ulven, of University of Southern Denmark rapidly towards the clinic. We believe GPR120 agonism holds immense promise for the treatment of NASH due to its potential to impact multiple stages in the development of this important disease.”

Elizabeth Roper, Partner, Epidarex Capital, concluded: “Attracting LifeArc as new investors into Caldan is a reflection of the great progress that Caldan has made and the company’s potential to become the leading company developing GPR120 inhibitors for metabolic disease.”

[i] British Liver Trust. Accessed August 2019.

Notes to Editors

LifeArc is a self-funded medical research charity. Our mission is to advance translation of early science into health care treatments or diagnostics that can be taken through to full development and made available to patients. We have been doing this for more than 25 years and our work has resulted in a diagnostic for antibiotic resistance and four licensed medicines.

Our success allows us to explore new approaches to stimulate and fund translation. We have our own drug discovery and diagnostics development facilities, supported by experts in technology transfer and intellectual property who also provide services to other organisations.

Our model is built on collaboration, and we partner with a broad range of groups including medical research charities, research organisations, industry and academic scientists. We are motivated by patient need and scientific opportunity.

Two funds help us to invest in external projects for the benefit of patients: our Philanthropic Fund provides grants to support medical research projects focused on the translation of rare diseases research and our Seed Fund is aimed at start-up companies focused on developing new therapeutics and biological modalities.

Find out more about our work on this website, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Epidarex Capital is a transatlantic venture fund that invests in early-stage, high growth life science and health technology companies in under ventured markets. Epidarex focuses on providing risk capital to young companies, including spin-outs from leading research institutions in up and coming life science hubs. The fund’s international management team has a track record of successfully partnering with top scientists and entrepreneurs to develop highly innovative products for the global healthcare market. For more information, please see