A firm of venture capitalists has given its backing to technology which could help speed up the discovery of new drugs and medicines.

Leading start-up funder Mercia Fund Management has invested in CYP Design Ltd, a spin-out company from the Leicester School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University (DMU).

The company was founded to market new technology designed to reduce the time and money spent on the discovery and testing of new drugs.

Its products, invented by DMU’s Professor Bob Chaudhuri, are based on a set of proteins found in the human liver called cytochrome P450s (CYPs).

The body uses these enzymes to metabolise drugs – and crucially, they can help researchers quickly identify chemical compounds that are promising for drug development but unlikely to be toxic to humans.

However, until now CYPs have had to be transported and stored at temperatures as low as -80 Celsius.

Professor Chaudhuri’s invention allows scientists to use them at room temperature, cutting the cost and time involved in drug discovery. The new products will also allow toxicity testing to be incorporated into automated drug discovery processes, providing researchers with critical feedback on potential human toxicity at a very early stage.

The potential of this technology and CYP Design Ltd’s growth plans proved an irresistible business opportunity for Mercia, which has provided funding through the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS).

Aimed at encouraging investment in small and early stage start-up businesses, SEIS sees companies pitch for seed funding investment from private equity investors.

The first products, stabilised forms of CYPs, are expected to be launched early next year. As part of the SEIS round, CDL founders Prof Chaudhuri, Dr Bill Primrose and Dr Paul Rodgers have been joined by David Gask, a leading entrepreneur, as Chairman of the Board.

Dr Bill Primrose (CEO) said: “We’re delighted that MFM has shown confidence in our technology through this investment. The team’s support in terms of feedback on our strategy and providing us with crucial contacts within our industry will enable us to accelerate the launch of our first products.”

Tim Hazell, co-founder and Senior Investment Manager at MFM, said: “CYP Design is a great example of the type of early stage businesses we back via our SEIS funds under management. CDL attracted us as it has a credible pipeline of opportunities, highly scalable offering and an exemplary team to deliver the company’s strategy of growth.”

Dr Ray Kent, Director of Research, Business and Innovation at DMU, also welcomed the investment. He said: “This investment will provide a considerable boost to Professor Chaudhuri’s internationally-recognised work on the cytochrome P450 superfamily. We are very excited that CDL has now joined forces with MFM and David Gask in order to take forward this innovative technology.” –

See more at: http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2013/october/venture-capitalists-back-dmu-invention-to-aid-drug-discoveries.aspx#sthash.Tai7kO5H.dpuf