Research started in Oxford University’s chemistry laboratories has evolved into a biophysical discovery platform that delivers high-resolution data to aid the discovery of therapeutics for patients suffering from immunological and genetic disorders.
OMass has completed an extended series A financing round of £27.5m from existing investors Syncona and Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), who contributed £16.6m and £10.4m respectively, and Oxford University, which brought a further £0.5m. Together with £14m raised in 2008, this brings the A series total to £41.5m.
The developments are based on work on mass spectrometry by Professor Dame Carol Robinson, chair of Dr Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University and founder of OMass Therapeutics. The technology, known as native mass spectrometry, allows proteins to be tracked in a native-like state enabling drug interactions to be carefully studied. OMass aims to use the tool along with other in-house approaches to automate the discovery of the most effective drugs.
Native mass spectrometry enables protein targets to be studied in a folded native-like state that preserves associated non-covalent interactions. This allows drug interactions to be captured as well as the influence of those drugs on down-stream interaction networks that are necessary for dictating function. In this way, the technology enables direct observation of pharmacology (binding and function) at unprecedented resolution.
OMass Therapeutic’s chief executive Ros Deegan explains that the funding provides another two years of runway for the company, by which time she expects it to be moving to pre-clinical trials. She says:
“It is an exciting time in our progression as we discover, develop and ultimately commercialise novel medicines to bring life-changing benefits to patients with immunological and genetic diseases.”
The ambition, she continues, is for the company to take its discoveries to market itself though she acknowledges that some opportunities may work better with partners. A new tenant at Oxford Science Park’s Schrödinger building, she jokes that the company may be looking for more space soon.
Matthew Cobb’s book charts the history of efforts to understand the brain and brings us up to date with the latest developments in neuroscience.