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Further Investment in Developing Next-generation Anticoagulants

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LUNAC Therapeutics (LUNAC), a UK based drug discovery company focused on the identification and development of advanced anticoagulants with minimal bleeding risk, has announced that, along with the Medicines Discovery Catapult and the University of Leeds, it has been awarded £3.14M funding under Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst programme. The funding will be used to develop an innovative anticoagulant treatment with minimal bleeding risk, to better meet patient need.

The 18-month preclinical drug discovery project brings together target biology, disease understanding, and chemistry expertise at LUNAC and the University of Leeds with the Medicines Discovery Catapult’s drug discovery know-how and preclinical imaging expertise. The project aims to develop a first-in-class drug to prevent the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel (thrombosis). The organizations will work together to optimize and advance the discovery of a new class of highly specific anticoagulant compounds that block an activated clotting enzyme, Factor XII (FXIIa), for which there is strong evidence that inhibition will not increase the risk of bleeding.

Currently available anticoagulants have a relatively narrow margin between beneficial effects and undesirable bleeding events, including bleeding in the brain or gut which, in some instances, may be fatal. This novel class of compounds would therefore allow more at-risk patients to be treated, and would also enable safe dose escalation in high-risk patients.

Anticoagulation therapy is used for a wide range of conditions including prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, prevention of venous thromboembolism post-surgery as well as other clinical circumstances. New anticoagulant treatments have the potential to save in excess of £2.7 billion per year, by impacting on bleeding and stroke episodes in Europe alone.

Professor Helen Philippou, Scientific Founder of LUNAC Therapeutics, said: “New anticoagulant treatments are desperately needed. LUNAC’s research has shown that targeting activated Factor XII has the potential to offer a new treatment option for patients, and we are therefore delighted to have secured Biomedical Catalyst funding to help drive this exciting project forward.”

Mr Andy Duley, Director of Commercialization, University of Leeds said: “This new collaboration will address the need for anti-clotting therapies with great efficacy and minimal bleeding risk. The differentiation of this approach should eliminate the risk of increased bleeding, marking a step-change in the management of the thrombosis.”

This follows the recent announcement of the spin-out of LUNAC from the University of Leeds, with £2.65M funding in the first close of a Series A financing round led by Epidarex Capital.