Maxion Therapeutics awarded £2 million Innovate UK funding to develop ion channel antibodies for “hard-to-treat” autoimmune diseases

April 19, 2023
  • Funding targets a critical unmet clinical need to treat autoimmunity, which affects around 300 millionpeople globally
  • Awarded as part of £25 millionInnovate UK Biomedical Catalyst fund

Cambridge, UK 19 April 2023 – Biotechnology company Maxion Therapeutics (‘Maxion’) today announced it has been awarded a prestigious GBP £2 million grant from innovate uij as part of its Biomedical Catalyst 2022 Round 2: lndustrvd

ied R&ci funding competition. The funds will support the use of Maxion’s proprietary KnotBod ®platform to develop antibodies to treatautoimmune diseases (AID) with high unmet clinical need. The funding, which originates from UK Research and Innovation, is part of a GBP £25million investment in projects to support UK-registered businesses to develop innovative solutions to address significant health or healthcare challenges.

The funding follows Maxion’s announcement in February 2023 that it hadcompleted a £13 million Series A financing, led by liteArc Ventures. including Monograph Capital and BGas equal participants.

The effective treatment of AID remains an important medical challenge and a significant area of unmet medical need. Currently, 4% of the world’s population, or around 300 million people, are thought to be suffering from over 80 different autoimmune conditions. In the UK alone, 4 millionpeople live with an autoimmune condition, with the incidence increasing by 3-9% annually.

Antibody-based therapies have transformed the way chronic conditions like autoimmune disorders (AID) are treated, providing enhanced efficacy and safety while reducing the need for frequent administration. However, despite the success of current antibody therapies such as Humira, (the world’s best-selling drug), a significant proportion of patients do not respond well to treatment. Moreover, these therapies can lead to broad immunosuppression, increasing the risk of infections. As such, noveltreatments are required that can offer broader patient coverage whileminimising adverse effects.

Several ion channels are implicated in the pathogenesis of AID, but these critical cell surface proteins are seen as a complex target class for antibodies, with no antibody-based drugs targeting ion channels currently approved or in clinical development. At Maxion, nature has provided the answer in the form of “miniproteins” (knottins) that block ion channels. When knottins are fused onto the surface of antibodies, the resulting “KnotBodies” combine the ion channel-blocking activity of knottins withthe excellent drug properties of antibodies, including long half-life in the body and the ability to further engineer their properties. This innovative molecular fusion approach serves as the foundation for Maxion’s patented KnotBody platform technology.

The company’s early R&D efforts have yielded KnotBodies to ion channel targets involved in AID, which will be further developed as selective and long-acting first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics using Innovate UK funding.

Dr John Mccafferty, CEO and co-founder of Maxion Therapeutics,said:

We are delighted to receive thissubstantial award from Innovate UK, tosupport the use of our KnotBody technology to develop therapeutics against this important but challenging class of targets. Our ultimate goal is tosignificantly improve the quality of lifeof patients by preventing and treatingdevastating autoimmune conditions, through the expansion andoptimisation of our innovative pipelineof candidate therapeutics.

Dr John McCafferty

Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt, CSO and co-founder of Maxion Therapeutics,said:

KnotBody technology overcomes many of the challenges presented byconventional antibody development techniques, with an ability to specifically target ion channels linked to chronic autoimmune diseases. We are excitedby the potential therapeutic candidates in our pipeline, and this new funding from Innovate UK will allow us toexpedite their development andprogress the most promising drugcandidate towards clinical trials.

Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt

Notes to Editors

Maxion Therapeutics is developing novel biologic medicines for ion channels and GPCRs, critical cell surface proteins involved in a wide range of previously untreatable or poorly-treated diseases, including autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. It is applying its patented KnotBody®technology to generate potent, selective, and long-acting antibody-like target modulators. KnotBody technology combines the power of millions of years of cysteine-rich miniprotein (‘Knottin’) evolution with state-of-the-art phage and mammalian display technologies to address key challenges in drug discovery.

Based at the Babraham Institute, in Cambridge, UK, Maxion Therapeutics is driven by an experienced team with an excellent track record. CEO and co-founder Dr John McCafferty (previously co-founder of Cambridge Antibody Technology and IONTAS) and CSO and co-founder Dr Aneesh Karatt Vellatt (also co-founder of IONTAS) co-invented KnotBody technology. Dr Mccafferty previously co-invented antibody phage display, which was the subject of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. 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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