BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Glycoform Ltd., a spin-out from Oxford University, raised £960,000 (US$1.6 million) in a second round to progress the development of a drug delivery system using carbohydrates to target specific cell receptors, and to work on improving the characteristics of protein drugs by glycosylation.

CEO Ian Rubin told BioWorld International, "This is spot on the amount we wanted. It enables us to set up our own labs and move from under Oxford University's umbrella, and then take three projects forward through significant value-adding steps."

Glycoform has developed techniques for the chemical and enzymatic manipulation of carbohydrates on proteins, including antibodies, in a highly site- and sugar-selective manner. That allows it to place carbohydrates at positions that are known to be critical to protein efficacy.

"This is the difference between us and anyone else," Rubin said. "We can produce single glycoforms, changing the pharmacokinetics of proteins with uniform glycosylation, and we can express the protein in bacterial cells, which is more efficient than using mammalian cell lines."

Glycoform aims to partner with companies developing therapeutic proteins, develop its own glycosylated proteins and license its glycosylating drug-delivery technology. The latest funding round will last until the end of next year. The company has selected three programs that it says will demonstrate different aspects of its technology.

Glycoform was spun out as part of the university's deal with IP2IPO Group plc, a quoted technology management group. In line with IP2IPO's strategy it did not take part in the second round, and now owns 13 percent of Glycoform. The lead investor in the round was East Hill LLC, of Boston.

Rubin also is CEO of Zyentia Ltd., another IP2IPO/Oxford University spin-out that specializes in protein folding.