Ubiquigent Limited, a company specialising in ubiquitin cell-signalling system drug discovery capabilities and services, today announced it has received £0.5 million in funding from IP Group plc and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. The investment will be used to accelerate the development and commercialisation of these drug discovery platforms. Ubiquigent has also announced an appointment to strengthen its board of directors. Joining the board as a Non-Executive Director, effective immediately, is Dr Mark Treherne. Mark has been active in the pharmaceutical industry for over 25 years. In this time, he has been involved in starting and raising over £140 million for a number of early-stage biotechnology companies. Amongst these, Mark was a co-founder and Chief Executive of Cambridge Drug Discovery, which was acquired by BioFocus plc. Mark has served on the boards of over 14 private and public biopharmaceutical companies in both executive and non-executive roles.
Located at the University of Dundee and with direct access to the leading scientific expertise of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU), Ubiquigent develops and provides a range of reagents, kits, assay development, drug lead compound profiling (including DUBprofiler for profiling deubiquitylase enzyme inhibitors) and other services. These products and services support academic and pharmaceutical researchers to understand the role of protein ubiquitylation in regulating many aspects of cellular functions and the development and optimisation of drug candidate compounds that target the system addressing a number of critical therapeutic areas. Ubiquigent already has a significant pharmaceutical and biotechnology client list and has delivered on a number of major high-throughput screening (HTS) assay development and compound profiling projects.
Involving the modification of proteins through the attachment of the protein ubiquitin, or ubiquitin-like proteins (Ubls), ubiquitylation and related Ubl modifications are key to the control of cellular protein homeostasis as well as signalling, akin to the critical role played by phosphorylation (approximately 20% of compounds in drug development target phosphorylation enzymes), and holds similar potential for clinical utility. The ubiquitin system offers many new drug discovery target opportunities across multiple therapeutic areas including oncology, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders.
The Company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) is chaired by Professor Sir Philip Cohen, FRS, a world leading expert on the role of protein modifications in cellular regulation and the translation of this knowledge towards the treatment of human disease. Also sitting on Ubiquigent’s SAB and contributing deep subject expertise are Professor Dario Alessi FRS (Director of the MRC-PPU) and Professor Ron Hay FRS. Commenting on the funding Professor Cohen said: “The potential for developing drugs targeted at the ubiquitin system is very significant. The funding for Ubiquigent will ensure that novel capabilities are developed to enable ubiquitin-system drug discovery thus facilitating the addressing of new therapeutic targets across a wide range of disease areas.”
Dr Mark Treherne said: “I look forward to working closely with the Ubiquigent team to support the company in the planning and execution of its strategy in this high growth potential field. I also welcome the opportunity to work again alongside Professor Cohen with whom I had a very productive commercial collaboration in the past.”
Dr Jason Brown, Managing Director of Ubiquigent Ltd, added “We would like to thank IP Group plc and Scottish Enterprise for supporting the Company at this stage of its development. I look forward to working closely with Mark Treherne and other members of the management and Scientific Advisory Boards to lead the business through the next phase and deliver new approaches that help realise the full potential of this key area of drug discovery.”