L-r: CEO Richard Boyd, CTO Dr Andy Herbert and scientists Dr Sunay Chankeshwara and Dr Eliza Makou
A spinout company whose technology could save the lives of thousands of dialysis patients has secured £500,000 from Mercia Fund Managers, in the first investment deal since Mercia’s partnership with the University of Edinburgh was announced in November 2017.
Invizius stems from years of research by biologist Dr Andy Herbert and his team, who believe they have found a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among patients undergoing long-term dialysis. The investment will allow the company to build its team and take the product to the next stage of development in preparation for clinical trials.
Despite improvements in dialysis therapy, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for dialysis patients. Today, almost half of all dialysis patients die from cardiovascular complications, and life expectancy on dialysis is just one-third of that for the general population. The patient’s immune system sees the dialysis filter as a foreign body, creating inflammation that damages the cardiovascular system over time.
Invizius’s H-Guard™ product is a powerful anti-inflammatory used as a ‘primer’ to coat the filter surface which, when mixed with the patient’s blood, makes the surface seem less foreign to the patient’s immune system. Unlike some other proposed solutions, H-Guard does not shut down the immune system but instead effectively ‘hides’ the device from it to prevent an immune response.
While the first product is aimed at kidney dialysis, there is also potential to use the technology with other devices or procedures such as catheters, stents, organ transplants and vascular grafts.
Invizius is led by CEO Richard Boyd, who previously founded VueKlar Cardiovascular, with Dr Herbert as CTO. The team has spent six years developing the technology with support from world-leading dialysis manufacturers, Kidney Research UK, and £600,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s High Growth Spin Out Programme.
Edinburgh Innovations, which manages industry engagement for the University of Edinburgh, has supported the researchers throughout the commercialisation process, which started with their novel scientific findings and included the recent launch of the spinout company.
Richard Boyd said: “We are very pleased to welcome Mercia as an investor. Their ability to back and help develop life science businesses from the point of spinout through to commercialisation makes them an ideal partner for Invizius.”
Dr Nicola Broughton, Head of Universities at Mercia, said: “Invizius builds on the world-class research carried out at the University of Edinburgh and is an excellent choice for our first investment under our partnership with the University. This technology could revolutionise kidney dialysis and, with 3 million patients worldwide, has the potential to save countless lives. The funding will take the company one step closer to bringing it to market.”
Dr George Baxter, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Innovations, said: “I’m delighted to see this substantial investment in a University spinout company, whose work holds such promise for many patients. It’s a perfect example of how partnerships can enhance the University’s impact, and Edinburgh Innovations looks forward to working with Mercia and our researchers to identify and support further such opportunities.”
Eleanor Mitchell, Director Enterprise Growth, Grant Appraisal & Management, said: “We are delighted that Invizius has secured this important seed investment. Our initial support helped to engage a strong commercially experienced management team early in the process to ensure the technology development was focused on the market application. Scottish Enterprise looks forward to a continued relationship with this innovative company on a high growth trajectory with a product that will make a huge difference to patients on long-term kidney dialysis.”
Morton Fraser provided legal advice to Mercia on the investment while MBM advised the company.