New drugs for regenerative medicine | University of Oxford

New drugs for regenerative medicine

OxStem, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford, is developing an innovative new approach to the future treatment of diseases with high unmet need, such as Alzheimer's disease, cancer, blindness and heart failure.

OxStem - winner of the OBN Best Biotech Start Up Award 2016

Professor Angela Russell - named as a 'Rising Star' in the BioBeat 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness 2016 report

OxStem logoOxStem
The field of regenerative medicine is concerned with regenerating or replacing cells, tissues or organs to restore normal, healthy function in the human body. To date, most regenerative medicine research has focused on injecting stem cells for therapy. However, the body can identify the stem cells as ‘foreign’ and so may reject them, in the same way that it may reject an organ transplant. The treatment is also expensive and requires specialist hospital equipment for treating patients.

OxStem, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford, is pursuing a different approach. OxStem is developing small molecule drug candidates targeting innate regeneration and repair. Simply put, OxStem’s potential therapies aim to enhance natural repair processes in order to treat disease. No new cells are introduced into the body, therefore there are no rejection/tolerance issues.

OxStem’s approach is based on decades of research in five departments at the University of Oxford.  The company has programmes targeting haematological (blood-related) malignancies, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease and retinal diseases, and two nascent programmes targeting diabetes and inflammation.  OxStem collaborates closely with disease experts at the University of Oxford who are world-leading in their field and provide biological and clinical input into the different programmes. Exceptional research talent has been recruited from around the world: OxStem currently funds 30 full time post-doctoral research associates within the University.

OxStem raised a record-breaking £15.6M in 2016 – the largest seed fundraise for a UK University spin-out. Amongst OxStem’s seed investors are Bob Duggan, former CEO of Pharmacyclics, and Oxford Sciences Innovation. Following the seed fundraise, OxStem won an award for the Best Biotech Start Up 2016 and was featured in Nature in 2017 in an article entitled “Masters of Medicine” (https://www.nature.com/articles/545S4a#oxstem-doubling-down-on-disruption) – one of only six innovative and disruptive University start-up biotechnology companies from around the world to be profiled.

By developing new drugs that can enhance repair mechanisms that already exist within the body, OxStem is optimistic that it will have a major impact on serious diseases for which treatments are currently limited or even non-existent.