Roquefort Therapeutics has acquired Oncogeni to pivot into a cancer-fighting enterprise and welcomed its founder Nobel Laureate to its board.

Prof. Sir Martin Evans, a pioneer in stem cells and DNA research, is the listed company’s new group chief scientific officer and executive director following the deal for £5.5 million in shares, which follows Roquefort’s £1m raise via a share placing.

Trevor Ajanthan Reginald has also been appointed as CEO and executive director, while Dr Darrin Disley joins as non-executive director following the exit of Mark Freeman. Professor Armand Keating has also arrived as an independent chief medical advisor.

Reginald is an experienced biotechnology CEO with a track record in drug development, BioTech transactions and commercialisation. Over 20 years, he has served as the global head of emerging technologies for Roche Group, COO and CTO of Novacyt, and CEO of Celixir Ltd.

With Prof. Evans, he founded Celixir PLC, and developed a novel cardiac cellular medicine which completed pre-clinical development and won FDA, MHRA and EU regulatory trial approvals. 

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Celixir completed a licensing deal for its lead program in the Japanese market with Daiichi Sankyo, a Japanese pharmaceutical company which included a £12.5m upfront payment and a £5m equity investment which valued Celixir at £220m.

Oncogeni is focused on two areas of cancer research: small interfering RNA (gene silencing) and mesodermal killer (MK) cells.

“We are extremely pleased to have completed the fundraise and the acquisition of Oncogeni, which pivots Roquefort Therapeutics into a material oncology biotech company with a pre-clinical anti-cancer portfolio that is patent protected and fully funded to clinical trial submission,” said executive chairman Stephen West.

“In addition to the exciting portfolio, Roquefort Therapeutics now has a state-of-the-art laboratory and manufacturing facility which provides the group with major cost saving and time advantages as we progress through the pre-clinical stage of development. 

“Ajan Reginald’s experience in commercialisation both within big pharma and in BioTech will be invaluable as CEO as we look to achieve value in this high growth segment of life sciences.” raises £2.2m to make diagnostic imaging accessible to all