Life sciences firm launches crowdfunder to tackle Covid-19

A Scottish life sciences firm has launched a crowdfunding drive as it looks to accelerate its work on therapies designed to tackle Covid-19 and cancer.

TC BioPharm's chief executive Dr Michael Leek believes it represents an exciting investment opportunity. Picture: Jacqueline Bradley.
TC BioPharm's chief executive Dr Michael Leek believes it represents an exciting investment opportunity. Picture: Jacqueline Bradley.

Immunotherapy specialist TC BioPharm, which has bases in Glasgow and Edinburgh, has already raised more than £7 million in the last 15 months and is now seeking additional investment as it looks to take clinical trials forward.

Since launching its fundraising bid on the Crowdcube platform earlier this month the firm, led by chief executive Dr Mike Leek, has secured almost £1.4m from investors in a move that values it at more than £100m.

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TC BioPharm also said it is progressing work on a large-scale funding round in 2021 to pave the way for a “healthy exit” for shareholders, either by way of an initial public offering on Nasdaq or sale to a large pharma company, “in line with the route followed by most successful life science companies”.

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Dr Leek said the crowdfunding pitch, which remains open for another three weeks, was an exciting opportunity for backers “to make a commercially attractive investment while making a major contribution to improved patient health and quality of life”.

In July the company said the UK regulatory body Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) had granted approval to treat patients hospitalised with Covid-19 and that it aimed to start clinical safety studies soon. It also said it had seen encouraging results from its latest cancer trial.

Established in 2014, TC BioPharm specialises in the use of gamma-delta T cells (GDTs) that are the first line of defence in viral infection and are pre-programmed to target a wide range of diseases including many cancer types.

Having previously demonstrated the safety of GDTs in late-stage cancer patients, the company entered discussion with the MHRA over treating Covid-19 patients.

At the time it said the initial clinical trial site was anticipated to be the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Hospitalised patients would receive treatment following confirmation of Covid-19 infection, with the intention of preventing their need for intensive care.

In 2017 the company, which now has 80-plus staff, secured more than £6.25m to press ahead with the development of its innovative cancer treatments. The funds were provided mainly by Japan’s Nipro Corporation and the Scottish Investment Bank, augmented by several family-based investment sources.

Other Scottish companies looking to raise funds on the Crowdcube platform currently include tidal energy firm Orbital Marine Power.

It exceeded its initial £1m funding target in less than a week and has so far received pledges topping £1.5m.

The company is planning to install the world’s most powerful operational tidal turbine off the Orkney islands early next year. The Orbital O2 will be capable of meeting the electricity demand of more than 1,700 homes every year.

The money raised by the firm, which has 32 staff at its offices in Orkney and Edinburgh, will support further development of its technology and business-development.

Chief executive Andrew Scott said: “This is a very exciting time for us and by overfunding we will be able to further ramp-up our commercialisation activities and accelerate the deployment of our technology at scale – an objective which can’t come soon enough in the effort to tackle climate change.”

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