By Kristy Dorsey

A new Scottish university spin-out has launched with £3.2 million of seed funding to develop immunotherapies targeting cancer tumours.

Macomics is founded on research from the laboratory of Jeffrey Pollard, director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh. Together with Macomics co-founder Luca Cassetta, they have produced decades of research into the role of macrophages in increasing the body’s immune defence against tumours.

The seed funding has been provided by transatlantic scientific investor Epidarex Capital and the Scottish Investment Bank. The cash is expected to fund an initial 18 months of work before Macomics embarks on its next funding round.

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In conjunction with the financing, Macomics has appointed biotechnology industry expert Robert Haigh as chief executive, along with Jane Dancer as a non-executive director. Both are based in England, but will be in regular communication with the Macomics team.

Mr Haigh has an extensive background in research and development across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, including roles at Ferring and Boehringer Ingelheim, where he was involved in oncology research. He was involved in the development of start-ups Vantia Therapeutics and KalVista, and is currently chairman of gene therapy company Ikarovec.

Ms Dancer has more than 30 years’ experience in business development within the life sciences industry. She has previously held senior positions at Cambridge Antibody Technology, Cellzome and F-star.

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Mr Pollard said tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) are an area of “significant untapped potential” for the development of cancer therapeutics. The modulation of TAMs enhances the body’s ability to fight cancer, while Macomics’ proprietary technology improves their ability to selectively target tumours rather than healthy cells.

“The creation of Macomics based on the research of my group at the University of Edinburgh provides the team with an exciting opportunity to develop new effective cancer drugs against macrophage targets that will bring real clinical benefit to many more patients suffering from cancer,” he added.

The formation of the company was facilitated by Edinburgh Innovations. Macomics’ platform technology is believed to have potential across a wide range of cancers, though the company will be revealing its areas of focus “in due course”.