Working with business:

Examples of commercialisation

DegraSense Ltd

A Queen Mary University of London research team used around £90k of BBSRC follow-on funding to develop a prototype periodontal disease sensor and strengthen their existing intellectual property.

Dr Steffi Krause and Dr Michael Watkinson’s prototype uses tailored hydrogel coatings that act as sensor materials for key enzyme indicators of periodontal disease (inflammation of the supporting tissues of teeth).

"The funding gave us the time to approach dental companies and developmental partners", says Dr Krause. "From the results we obtained during this period, we were able to make a successful bid for £738k from the Technology Strategy Board to develop a prototype sensor clinical trial, with partners in The University of Sheffield and dental and sensor technology companies."

The new project started in April 2008.

The team also formed a spin-out, DegraSense Ltd, with a further £60k from IP2IPO Ltd and Combined London Colleges University Challenge Limited Partnership. This will allow the researchers to further develop the sensor system and write a business plan for the exploitation of the sensor technology.

Procarta Biosystems Ltd

Procarta aims to develop novel proprietary therapeutics against drug-resistant pathogens. It draws upon on the expertise of scientists at JIC on the genetic regulation of metabolism in Streptomyces bacteria.

Working with PBL, the JIC scientists behind the new company are Dr Michael McArthur and Professor Mervyn Bibb. Dr McArthur has developed a novel way of characterising the regulatory proteins that interact with molecular ‘switches’ to turn Streptomyces genes on and off. This opens up the potential for targeting particular switches and turning off those that control genes that make the bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

As well as core funding to JIC, we have supported the commercialisation of this research through follow-on funding to demonstrate proof-of principle, and an enterprise fellowship to Dr McArthur.

Novacta Biosystems Ltd

Also spun-out from research at JIC led by Professor Mervyn Bibb and colleagues, Novacta deploys a range of specialised approaches to rationally manipulate biosynthetic pathways in microbes so that they produce new bioactive products, for example against new targets in pathogens.

This technology harnesses natural biosynthetic mechanisms to achieve properties that may not be reached through conventional chemistry. It takes forward ideas arising from research on Streptomyces bacteria at JIC.

The company has several programmes based around its proprietary lantibiotic derivatives. Among several new candidate therapeutics is one against C. difficile that is in pre-clinical toxicology testing.