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Hydrogen sulfide boosts mitochondria 

University spin-out company aiming to treat degenerative disease announces funding

A biotech company which aims to harness University of Exeter research to develop new therapeutics to stop the progression of degenerative diseases has received new seed financing. 

MitoRx Therapeutics (MitoRx), is initially focussing on developing a new therapy that targets mitochondria, the power stations of the cell. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been linked to the progression of rare diseases such as the neuromuscular disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the neurodegenerative disorder Huntington’s disease, and it has also been implicated in common neurodegenerative diseases.

Alongside new seven-figure seed financing, the company has also announced the appointment of Glyn Edwards MBE as Chair. He brings specialist industry experience developing therapeutics for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and progressing these to late-stage clinical trials.

The science behind the University of Exeter spinout company is based on years of collaborative work by the University of Exeter Medical School and Biosciences academics and now MitoRx scientists Professor Matt Whiteman, Dr Mark Wood and Dr Roberta Torregrossa. MitoRx’s academic founder, and CSO, Prof Matt Whiteman, and his collaborators have recently demonstrated the complete reversal of loss-of strength due to mitochondrial dysfunction in worms, and brain protection in mice.

Professor Whiteman said: “This is the culmination of more than 10 years of hard work. It is exciting enough showing molecules designed and made here at Exeter are effective in a variety of pre-clinical models, which have twice included experiments on the international space station. It’s absolutely jaw-dropping to have the opportunity to take them towards the clinic and hopefully address human disorders with clearly urgent unmet and often neglected clinical need.”

Dr Jon Rees, CEO of MitoRx, said: “I’ve long been fascinated by how reversing mitochondrial dysfunction could rebuild the body’s resilience to degenerative diseases, which place great burdens on patients and healthcare systems. This seed financing will enable us to advance MitoRx’s first-in-class therapeutic pipeline. We are the first biotech to address dysfunction of sulfide-signalling, a fundamental part of life’s energy systems. I’m also delighted to welcome Glyn to the team – his wealth of experience will be a great asset as we accelerate our novel pipeline of small molecule mitochondrial protective therapeutics towards the clinic.”

Dr Norman Law, Co-founder of MitoRx, said: “I’m excited to have this opportunity to use Prof. Whiteman’s ground-breaking research on mitochondria to develop novel medicines for indications where there is a long-standing clinical need. Notably we already have data for our compounds in other therapeutic areas such as respiratory and dermatology, which we would look to partner or out-license, as we focus on progressing our pipeline of mitochondrial-targetted therapeutics for degenerative diseases."

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director at the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting MitoRx Therapeutics’ journey in creating innovative therapeutics for degenerative diseases. The company’s platform for reversing mitochondrial dysfunction has great potential to benefit people suffering from both rare and common forms of degenerative disease.”

The seed financing was backed by a broad range of investors including the UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Wren Capital,, The Fink Family Office, the Science Angel Syndicate Network, Oxford Technology Management, and the University of Exeter, as well as angel investors. The seed financing will be used to fund pre-clinical proof-of-concept platform development and explore research collaborations and partnerships.

Date: 25 April 2022