finance

ILC Therapeutics makes board changes to help accelerate Covid-19 drug



ILC Therapeutics has strengthened its board and management team, as it announces a pre-Initial Public Offering (IPO) funding round.

Peter Bains becomes a non-executive chairman, Richard Morgan a non-executive director and Allan Watson joins as chief financial officer.

Bains has more than three decades of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, including senior strategic and operational roles in a more than 20 year career with GSK, more recently serving as chief executive of Syngene – where he led a successful IPO and listing – and Sosei Heptares.

Morgan has played an active role in the development of more than 35 life science companies, assisting a number of these with listings on the London Stock Exchange.

Watson has more than 15 years of experience working globally as a chief financial officer for leading pharmaceuticals and medtech companies and has advised multiple companies on IPOs, mergers and acquisitions.

Chairman Dr Magnus Nicholson will become a senior adviser and non-executive director on the board.

The appointments come as the Glasgow-based company seeks to accelerate development of its technology platform and prepare its hybrid interferon drug candidate, Alfacyte, for clinical trials.

ILC Therapeutics is developing a new class of proprietary laboratory-designed interferons based on the work of Professor William Stimson, its founder and chief scientific officer – and also founder of the Department of Immunology at The University of Strathclyde.

Alfacyte is a ‘fusion’ molecule based on natural human alpha interferons and is being developed as an inhaled medicine to treat Respiratory Viral Infections (RVIs). It has shown potential against RVI’s in laboratory testing including against SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19.

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In vitro testing at the University of St Andrews demonstrated that Alfacyte had many times greater antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 cell culture than any other available interferons.

Interferons “interfere” with viral reproduction and are one of the body’s key defences against all viral pathogens. In some cases (SARS, MERS, Covid-19), viruses can evade the interferon response by delaying the innate immune response.

A therapeutic like Alfacyte can offer enhanced interference to Covid-19 replication in the body and activate the body’s own natural killer cells to fight virus infection. It can also reduce “off target” effects and reduce production of cytokine storm mediators which often cause the most severe cases of Covid-19.

ILC Therapeutics is preparing Alfacyte to complete the Investigational New Drug (IND) application, which is a regulatory requirement to advance new drugs to enter human clinical trials.

The company has engaged Spanish biologics production service 3P Bio for the manufacture of Alfacyte, as well as UK-based contract research organisation TCRS for clinical trials, which are being planned for early 2022.

It will be seeking new funding to underpin these activities.

Dr Alan Walker, chief executive of ILC Therapeutics, stated: “We are very pleased to announce this funding round and expansion of the team to further develop our world class scientific and commercial team with industry veterans who have started and grown multiple life sciences companies such as Peter and Richard.

“The development of antiviral therapeutics for Covid-19 is crucial to complement the vaccine effort and to ensure we have a safety net should a new mutation escape vaccines entirely.

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“Having a potent therapeutic interferon such as Alfacyte that can suppress viral respiratory diseases before it progresses in the body can also play a central role in future pandemics and potentially give us the upper hand when a virus first emerges.”

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