Durham Uni spinout to pioneer ageing research with £150k funding

A Durham University spinout focussed on ageing research has secured a six-figure investment.

Magnitude Biosciences launched with the help of £150k funding from Saker Capital and the North East Innovation Fund, backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and run by Northstar Ventures.

A spinout from the university’s departments of biosciences and physics, the firm will assist organisations and academic researchers as they test compounds like food additives and drugs to understand how they affect the ageing process.

According to Magnitude, research in this field is tough because large sample sizes are needed to capture variability. The process can take many years to yield results.

Magnitude will work around this by testing on nematode worms known as ‘C. elegans’ – tubular organisms that are just about visible to the naked eye. They are ideal for ageing research due to their two- to three-week lifespan and tiny size.

The company has created a ‘healthspan machine’ that uses small, low-cost computers, each of which is linked to a camera monitoring large numbers of nematodes living in different conditions.

Dr David Weinkove, from Durham University’s department of biosciences, said: “Ageing research is becoming more and more important in understanding conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our new research methods could help companies discover and develop new drugs or food additives that could improve the amount of time a person spends living a healthy life.”

He added: “We are delighted to have received investment from Northstar Ventures and Saker Capital, which will support us in growing our business over the coming year.”

Magnitude Biosciences employs a team of four and recently appointed John O’Brien for the role of chief operating officer. John has specialist knowledge and skills in startups and life sciences tech.

The post was funded by the Northern Accelerator programme, itself part-funded by the ERDF.

Alex Buchan, investment director at Newcastle-based Northstar Ventures, commented: “We’re delighted to be investing in such an important area of research.

“The innovative method that’s been developed has great potential in making a real difference in how people will be able to live longer and healthier lives. We look forward to seeing the impact this makes in the increasingly important ageing sector.”

Saker Capital partner Sean Nicolson said of the deal: “We’re very pleased to have had the opportunity to back the Magnitude Biosciences team.

“There is an increasing focus on anti-ageing treatments with significant capital being invested in this field by new and established players.”

He continued: “We expect the ability to de-risk and accelerate the development of new treatments using Magnitude’s services will be of great interest to both academic and commercial research groups.”

 

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