MEIF - Proof of Concept

Spin-out raises £7.5m for novel treatment for blocked arteries

IsomAb – a University of Nottingham spin-out pioneering a new treatment for diabetics at risk of amputation – has raised £7.5m (US$9.4m) in a funding round led by Broadview Ventures and backed by MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia Ventures and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), Mercia’s EIS funds and existing investor SCVC.

The funding will enable IsomAb to carry out further studies in preparation for the start of clinical trials.

The company, which is based in Nottingham’s BioCity and employs six staff, focuses on the treatment of peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a relatively common condition where the arteries in the legs and feet become blocked by fatty deposits, resulting in lack of blood flow.

In many cases, the body successfully compensates by developing new blood vessels in a process known as angiogenesis. However, this process of compensation does not seem to occur in diabetics, and the lack of circulation often causes ulcers and irreversible tissue damage.

Research by IsomAb’s founders, Professor David Bates and Professor Steve Harper, suggests that this is because a protein called VEGF-A165b blocks the angiogenesis process in diabetics. The IsomAb team have developed an antibody that inhibits the effects of the protein and allows new blood vessels to be created.

Founded in 2022, IsomAb is the second spin-out by the pair. Their previous venture, Exonate Ltd, focuses on the treatment of diabetic macular oedema and has successfully completed its first clinical trial.

Jackie Turnbull, CEO of IsomAb, commented: IsomAb’s lead program, targeting VEGF-A165b aims to treat peripheral arterial disease in the large proportion of patients with concomitant metabolic syndrome andType II diabetes. We are delighted to have attracted a group of high-quality investors to support the early development of our novel program toward CTA filing to enter the clinic.”

Benjamin Kreitman, Principal at Broadview Ventures said: “Peripheral artery disease remains a significant unmet medical need worldwide, and the development of novel treatments to alleviate ischemia could improve clinical care for millions of patients. As Broadview’s investment strategy is focused on the improvement of human health in the areas of cardiovascular disease and stroke, we are delighted to accelerate this highly innovative approach.”

SCVC Managing Partner, Harry Destecroix, said: “We have been an investor in IsomAb since its incorporation and are really happy to be  a continuing backer of this high quality company.”

Hannah Tapsell Chapman of Mercia Ventures added: “IsomAb offers a fresh approach to the treatment of vascular disease. Although the initial focus will be on treating diabetics, research shows high levels of VEGF-A165b are also linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke in non-diabetics, so it could have much wider applications. The funding will enable the team to progress the development of the lead compound towards human clinical trials.”

Keira Shepperson, Investment Director, Regional Funds at the British Business Bank, said: “The Midlands Engine Investment Fund backs innovative SMEs in the Midlands. The MEIF’s latest Proof of Concept and Early Stage equity funding in IsomAb is a great example of its commitment to regional businesses. This investment from the MEIF will help experts to further identify the gaps in treating peripheral arterial disease.”   

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.