UK drug development group Cell Medica will no doubt be uncorking the champagne after securing a £17 million investment  to help it launch new operations across the Atlantic and support its ongoing work in Europe.

The financing includes new investment from Invesco Perpetual and Imperial Innovations, alongside a previously announced Commercialisation (Relocation) Award from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

The $15.3-million CPRIT investment will fund the Texas, USA-based clinical development of a promising cancer immunotherapy technology called Cytorex EBV, a novel approach to treating cancers associated with the oncogenic Epstein Barr Virus, which the firm has licensed from the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, The Methodist Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

In order to best execute its US cancer immunotherapy plan, Cell Medica said it will set up commercial operations in Texas and relocate a substantial part of its headquarters to the new Texas-based company.

“The launch of our US cancer immunotherapy operations represents a key step in the execution of Cell Medica’s business plan and we are very fortunate to have CPRIT as a core investor supporting the operations being set up in Texas," said Gregg Sando, chief executive and founder of Cell Medica. 

"We will be expanding our management team both in the US and Europe to deliver on our current product programmes and to secure a leadership position in cell therapeutics for cancer and infectious diseases," he added, explaining the group's business strategy.

European progress

Over in Europe, the additional investment will help to finance the company's commercialisation programme, which centers on its immune reconstitution products including Cytovir CMV and Cytovir ADV, which aim to prevent viral infections by reconstituting natural cell-mediated immunity in patients who are immunosuppressed after bone marrow transplantation. 

The market launch of Cytovir CMV is scheduled for 2013, while the Cytovir ADV clinical development programme will kick off with a Phase I/II trial later this year, the firm said.