Additional funding ‘to take drug discovery programme to next level’

Oxford Drug Design Limited (ODD), a biotechnology company with a proprietary computational and machine learning platform, says its recent securing of additional growth capital will enable it to build further on its research into the development of drugs that will address the growing threat posed by anti-microbial resistance.

The Oxford University biotech spin-out has raised a combined £2.2 m in funding from the Angel CoFund (ACF), o2h Ventures, and other new investors, and grant funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)’s UK-China research competition, bringing the firm’s total grant and equity funding raised in 2019 to over £9 m.

This growth capital will enable ODD to further its drug research and discovery efforts, with the DHSC grant specifically funding its latest project to develop ‘cutting-edge solutions’ that ‘will tackle critical issues of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) in humans and animals’.

In partnership with the University of Portsmouth and Chinese partners, Huazhong Agricultural University and Wuhan HVSEN Biotechnology Co, this project aims to discover and develop novel small molecule drugs, traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs), and TCM components for the treatment of bacterial infections in pigs using an approach that minimises the risk of development of resistance to antibiotics used for the treatment of people.

Earlier this year ODD won grants from CARB-X, ‘a global partnership dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research to tackle the rising threat of drug-resistant bacteria’, and another award from DHSC to advance its lead antibacterial project with a combined value of over £7 m.

Paul Finn, CEO of Oxford Drug Design, said: “This latest funding further validates our computational design-led focus that has enabled rapid progress in building our pipeline of novel antibiotic programmes. We are excited to be working with partners in the UK and China to develop a novel solution to the major challenge of supporting animal health without contributing to the rise of AMR in human infections, with potential benefits food production and human health worldwide.”

The research at the University of Portsmouth is being led by microbiologist Dr Roger Draheim. He said: “There is a degree of urgency to overcome increased resistance to many commonly prescribed drugs, and it is very exciting to be working on developments that could directly limit the initial generation of resistance at its source. This funding also further lends credibility to our in-house small molecule high-throughput in vivo screening strategies.”