University of Cambridge spin-out Qkine has closed its seed investment round supported by Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University, and a team of five angels led by Jim Warwick. The amount is undisclosed.
Qkine is a specialist manufacturer of proteins that are used for control of stem cell growth and differentiation. The backing of this strong team of experienced Angels will drive Qkine forward to establish its UK manufacturing base and support its product development programme, using protein engineering techniques to optimise growth factors for stem cell and organoid biology.
Growth factors and cytokines are proteins that transmit signals from one cell to another in higher organisms, orchestrating organisation of the developing embryo and regulating biological functions and repair processes in adults. They are used by stem cell scientists to mimic the environment in the human body, allowing carefully synchronised messages to be sent to stem cells, telling them to turn into the desired cell type. Innovations in stem cell biology over the last decade have given rise to applications in disease modelling, drug screening, precision medicine and development of new therapeutics. In turn, this is driving demand for higher quality and innovative reagents.
Scientific founder Dr Marko Hyvönen, who has a wealth of experience in protein engineering to make high quality proteins for use in structural biochemistry, is joined in this venture by co-founder and CEO, Dr Catherine Elton, who will implement the company’s growth strategy.
Commenting on the announcement, Hyvönen said: “I am very excited for Qkine to translate our basic research and expertise in protein engineering and growth factors to the benefit of stem cell research and regenerative medicine and to facilitate the development of new therapies”.
Former Abcam COO Jim Warwick, who joins the Qkine board and brings extensive experience in the life science reagent and digital sectors adds: “I knew Catherine from working with her when she headed up the labs at Abcam. Her skills around process optimisation and organisation are precisely the ones needed to help capitalise on this clear market opportunity”.
Qkine is incubated within the Department of Biochemistry and has been supported by Cambridge Enterprise throughout its start-up phase, first by a Pathfinder investment and more recently by their commitment to the seed investment round.
Dr Anne Dobrée , head of Seed Funds at Cambridge Enterprise, added: “We are delighted to to be supporting Qkine as it takes its next step into the stem cell and regenerative medicine markets. The need for high quality growth factors continues to expand, and Qkine is poised to meet the demand”.