News / Deep Tech

Bristol University spin-out firm developing next-generation cancer cell therapies

By Ellie Pipe  Tuesday Mar 23, 2021

A firm on a mission to develop next-generation cancer cell therapies is scaling up efforts to bring the potentially life-saving technology into use.

CytoSeek, a University of Bristol spin-out based at Unit DX in St Philip’s, has successfully raised £3.5m in seed funding to advance the work to treat solid tumours, which count for the majority of deaths in cancer patients.

The funding is led by Science Creates Ventures (SCV), the city’s new deep tech enterprise investment scheme (EIS) fund for science and engineering startups, and is the company’s first investment since announcing its venture capital fund last December.

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Dr Carolyn Porter, CEO at CytoSeek, is leading work on the technology that is designed to not only help target the immune cells to the solid tumour but also to improve their cancer cell killing ability.

Dr Carolyn Porter is leading work on the new technology – photo courtesy of CytoSeek

“This funding round led by SCV will enable us to succeed in scaling up our research and development (R&D) efforts and advance our mission to develop next-generation cancer cell therapies,” says Porter.

“Our ambition is to get our technology into cancer patients who are currently underserved by existing treatments and work with partners to make their cell therapies better.”

Professor Adam Perriman, who is also a professor of bioengineering in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Bristol, founded CytoSeek in November 2017 and is the company’s director and CSO.

Perriman says SCV has provided the glue for the tech and science ecosystem that has helped enable CytoSeek’s success.

“Our technology has real potential to improve cell therapies for cancer patients, and I feel confident this seed round will allow the company to progress to the next level,” he adds.

CytoSeek is developing next-generation cancer cell therapies – photo courtesy of CytoSeek

SCV focuses on technologies with the potential to improve healthcare, quality of life, and the environment.

It is supported and backed by entrepreneurs behind some of the South West’s biggest deep tech exits. Among these is Dr Harry Destecroix who, in 2018, sold his company, Ziylo, in a deal potentially worth £623m.

He, together with Dr Sam Olof, is the founder and general partner of SCV.

Dr Harry Destecroix founded SCV in a bid to help companies accelerate their technologies to market – photo courtesy of Science Creates and Transatlantic PR

“Historically, biotech companies in the South West have struggled to raise sufficient capital, even though the technology and research have been there,” says Destecroix.

“While founding my own startup, Ziylo, I became aware of just how many discoveries failed to emerge from the lab in Bristol alone. No matter the quality of the research and discovery, the right ecosystem is fundamental if we are going to transform the 90 per cent failure rate into an 88 per cent success rate for companies and create many more successful ventures.

“It’s why we launched SCV; to find great technologies, syndicate with other world-class investors and get sufficient capital to help companies accelerate their technologies to market.”

Main photo courtesy of CytoSeek

Read more: New world-class deep tech hub for Bristol

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