Posted on March 16, 2018 by staff

Start-up developing nanotech for fighting cancer raises £2m


An Oxford University spin-out looking to use its nanotechnology to improve the treatment of people living with cancer has raised a £2m investment.

Xerion Healthcare said the funding, provided by local venture capital fund Oxford Sciences Innovation, will fuel its expansion at Cherwell Innovation Centre near Bicester, Oxfordshire.

The company is looking to develop nanotechnology that enhances the effects of radiotherapy for thousands of people.

Xerion’s nanoparticles are injected into tumours, dispersing throughout the tumour and into cancer cells. When radiotherapy treatment is applied, the nanoparticles generate highly active molecular species, known as ‘free radicals’, which destroy the tumour cells.

The nanoparticles split water, rather than interacting with oxygen, allowing the most aggressive oxygen deficient tumour types to be targeted.

“Initial targets for our technology are head and neck and pancreatic cancers both of which have unmet clinical needs,” said Dr Gareth Wakefield, chief technology officer and co-founder of Xerion.

“Some throat cancers are impossible to surgically remove and the life span from diagnosis to death for those suffering with pancreatic cancer is usually a matter of months.

“Our cost-effective nanotechnology is set to have a huge impact by helping to increase quality and length of life of cancer sufferers.”

Xerion Healthcare first moved to Cherwell Innovation Centre in 2015 when seeking use of kitted-out labs and has just expanded to occupy a total of 1,840 sq ft of combined laboratory and office space.

In addition to this latest round of funding, the company has also been awarded a grant through Innovate UK’s Biomedical Early Catalyst scheme. It is now tackling the challenge of progressing from pre-clinical to patient trials, which are expected to commence early in 2020.