Mercia EIS Funds

Pertinax receives first investment from Mercia Fund Management

University of Bristol spinout developing slow-releasing chlorhexidine for dentistry and medicine

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a leading technology investor, has invested its first round of funding in Pertinax Pharma Ltd, a company developing a solution to improve the efficacy of chlorhexidine-based products, based on years of research and development from the University of Bristol’s School of Oral and Dental Science.

The investment round, which will total £400,000, allows Pertinax Pharma to begin the development of a robust, scalable production process and tap into its initial target market – oral care and dentistry. The investment from MFM’s capital will total £200,000 and is being matched by an investment by a university alumnus. This investment comes shortly after Pertinax Pharma was awarded a £489,000 grant from InnovateUK Aid for Start-ups following participation in the ICURe programme in February. The company is already garnering significant interest from several organisations in the pharmaceutical and life science sectors.

Ashley Cooper, CEO at Pertinax Pharma Ltd, said:

“I am looking forward to working with MFM, which has a strong track record of supporting university spinouts across a wide range of sectors. Their investment will help us to scale up the development of Pertinax which, due to its slow release capability, is more suitable to the environment and purpose of its application, and is already receiving interest from potential future partners.”

Pertinax is a particulate form of chlorhexidine (CHX), a widely-used biocide that can kill microbes and bacteria without damaging the contact area. CHX has a variety of uses, from skin and wound care to the treatment of periodontal disease, and is proven to be effective against a range of potentially dangerous microbes, including MRSA and E.coli. Furthermore, because CHX works by disrupting the microbial cell membrane, there is little danger of that microbe developing resistance, making CHX a vital tool in modern medicine.

However, despite its advantages, CHX in its traditional form has a limited window of effectiveness, lasting hours and sometimes only minutes. Pertinax has an unusually low solubility, meaning it can deliver antimicrobial protection in a more controlled way, thus maintaining an antimicrobial environment for much longer periods, as dictated by the clinical need – in some cases, this may be several years.

In its initial uses, Pertinax will help to lower the failure rate of dental fillings following tooth decay. Pertinax will be mixed with the cement material used to fill cavities and will maintain an environment in which bacteria cannot colonise, reducing the risk of filling failure. Currently, around 70% of fillings are replacements for failed fillings, which burden dental practices and patients with heavy costs.

Dr Michele Barbour, Founder & CSO of Pertinax Pharma Ltd, and Senior Lecturer in Dental Materials Science and Biomaterials at the University of Bristol, said:

“We’re very excited about Pertinax’s potential. Our first target market will be in the dental space, where there are a number of important applications of the technology, but in time we expect Pertinax to also find application in medicine, where it will be a very useful tool, particularly as antibiotic resistance becomes more prevalent and doctors turn to non-antibiotic technologies to protect and treat their patients.”

Dr Brijesh Roy, Investment Manager at Mercia Fund Management, said:

“With a strong management team and innovative product, University of Bristol spinout Pertinax Pharma has the potential to take its product from dental tool to a must-have anti-infective across a wide range of industries, from veterinary care, to cosmetics and even home appliances!”