A new Edinburgh-based MedTech firm has launched with a £3.2m seed financing round led by transatlantic VC Epidarex Capital, with the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise, also investing.

Macomics, which was spun out from the University of Edinburgh, will use the proceeds of this fundraising round to develop novel immunotherapies designed to modulate macrophages, increasing the body’s immune defence against tumours.

Macomics’ approach is based on academic research around macrophage biology, particularly in cancer, from the laboratory of Professor Jeffrey Pollard, Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, working with co-founder Dr Luca Cassetta.

Cancer cells are known to be able to evade destruction by the immune system. The firm says tumour associated macrophages (TAMs) are a key component of this immuno-suppressive and pro-tumoral ecosystem.

Modulating these TAMs will enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer, it said.

In parallel with the financing, Macomics has appointed biotechnology industry experts Dr Robert Haigh and Dr Jane Dancer as CEO and Non-Executive Director respectively.

Dr Haigh has worked extensively in R&D in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, with roles at Ferring and Boehringer Ingelheim, where he was involved in oncology research.

Dr Jane Dancer is a business development expert with over 30 years’ experience in the life science industry across biotech, pharma and agrochemicals. She was formerly Chief Business Officer at F-star, VP Business Development at Cellzome and Director, Business Development at Cambridge Antibody Technology Ltd.

Professor Jeffrey Pollard, Founder Director of Macomics & Director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh said:  “Decades of research into macrophage biology, particularly that of tumour-associated macrophages, have made it very clear to me that this is an area of significant untapped potential for the development of novel cancer therapeutics.

“The creation of Macomics based on the research of my group at the University of Edinburgh provides the team with an exciting opportunity to develop new effective cancer drugs against macrophage targets, that will bring real clinical benefit to many more patients suffering from cancer.”

Dr Elizabeth Roper, Partner at Epidarex Capital & Investor Director at Macomics added: “Despite the good progress that immunotherapies have brought to the treatment of cancer, addressing the hostile tumour environment remains a major obstacle to achieving better clinical outcomes in a broader patient population.

“The macrophage-based approach that Macomics is pioneering has significant potential in the treatment of cancer, as recent deals in the tumour-associated macrophage area indicate. We look forward to working with the team to support Macomics’ growth and to help it realise the potential of its world-class science.”