Specialist healthcare investor Syncona has provided £26.6 million in start-up funding to establish a new company based on a decade of research out of the University of Edinburgh.

Resolution Therapeutics is developing cell treatments to repair organ damage, including end-stage chronic liver disease. This could lead to the treatment of advanced liver damage that would otherwise require a transplant.

The investment from FTSE-listed Syncona is expected to enable Resolution to gain early clinical data for its first product.

The new biopharmaceutical company is developing macrophage cell therapies cultivated within the university's Centre for Regenerative Medicine. Macrophages are immune system cells involved in responses to injury, including the wound-healing process.

READ MORE: International cash for Scottish Covid firm

Resolution is exploiting the ability of macrophages to stimulate organ repair following damage caused by disease. Its first programme is an engineered macrophage to treat patients with compensated liver cirrhosis – where the liver is badly damaged but still functioning.

There are currently no therapies available and patients are at risk of progressing to decompensated cirrhosis, where the liver can no longer cope and the patient needs a transplant. More than 4,000 people a year in the UK die from cirrhosis with around 700 people needing a liver transplant.

Professor Stuart Forbes, director of the Centre for Regenerative Medicine, and his research team have been working for a decade on the role of macrophages in organ repair, with funding from the Medical Research Council. Syncona has been collaborating with his team since 2018, developing processes to engineer macrophage cell therapy.

The joint team is also working with the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) to optimise the manufacturing process and produce engineered macrophages for clinical use.

READ MORE: Aberdeen medical firm sold in multi-million pound deal

“Our research indicates that a macrophage cell therapy may have a therapeutic effect in liver cirrhosis," professor Forbes said. "By developing genetically modified macrophages we hope to increase the positive effects of these cells, and through this improve the lives of those suffering from chronic liver disease.”

The company will be based at the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh BioQuarter. It will be headed by chief executive Edward Hodgkin, a partner at Syncona.

Mr Hodgkin said: “We are excited to partner with the world-class team in Edinburgh as together we build a business that will develop and commercialise macrophage cell therapies to treat severely ill patients who have no other treatment options.

“It is a very exciting opportunity, and we will be at the forefront of the development of a new kind of cell therapy.”