UK Biotech Stars Strike Deals for Billion Pound Windfall

Two of the UK’s most promising biotech companies, Oxford Miomedica and Microbiotica, have signed partnership agreements with international partners that could potentially add up to over a billion pounds. Oxford Biomedica signed a licensing agreement with the USA’s Axovant Sciences, which is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The deal will see Axovant commercialise Biomedical’s injectable treatment for Parkinsons and could be worth over $900 million (£672 million) if all targets are reached. Meanwhile, Microbiotica’s deal is a research and commercialisation deal with Roche unit Genentech worth a potential $534 million (£398.7 billion).

Oxford Biomedica has been around for some time, founded in 1995 having been spun out of Oxford University. The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1996 but has seen its share price struggle since a sharp fall in the wake of the dotcom crash. The announcement of the deal this week saw its share price jump by over 20%, taking market capitalisation to a ten year high of £571 million. Axovant’s share price fared even better, doubling on the Nasdaq during Wednesday trading. The company has been in the doldrums after an Alzheimer’s drug it had placed significant hope in failed clinical trials last September. The company was valued at $3 billion when it floated 3 years ago but has seen its market cap drop to a little over half a billion, even after this week’s share price boost.

A gene and cell therapy specialist, Biomedica’s biotechnology is based on injected viruses carrying therapeutic genes into patients. Its Parkinson’s disease therapy will undergo phase I clinical trials in Britain and France later this year. Biomedica chief executive John Dawson commented that the deal was one of the most significant in the company’s history.

Microbiotica’s deal with Genentech will see the privately-owned Wellcome Sanger Institute spin-off collaborate on the discovery, development and commercialisation for inflammatory bowel disease treatments. The biotech is commercialising microbiome science. A microbiome is all of the genetic material within a microbiota, which itself is the medical term for the collection of microorganisms in a particular part of the body – in this case the gut.

With the life sciences sector one of the UK government’s post-Brexit priorities, this week’s news of two major success stories will be greeted with enthusiasm as well as providing a valuable commercial boost to the companies themselves.

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