University spin-off receives funding

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a national fund management business with a focus on the Midlands, North and Scotland, has expanded its Life Sciences portfolio with an investment into MIP Diagnostic Ltd., a spin-out from the University that manufactures chemical substitutes for antibodies required for medical purposes.

The initiative, which has received £182,000, joined an investment from MFM into a University of Warwick technology commercialisation company which will enhance the development of transdermal drug delivery systems.

MIP Diagnostic Ltd, a spin-out from the Leicester Biotechnology Group, Department of Chemistry, has developed technology to provide Molecular Imprinted Polymers (MIPS) to the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and chemical research industries. Unlike their counterparts – antibodies, affirmers and aptamers – MIPS are not biologically derived, which means that they are more stable and also cost effective for the research industry, as they take a week to make rather than months.

MIPS are chemically formulated to mimic the lock and key mechanism of biological antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, but, unlike antibodies, which can only fit to a pre-designated lock, MIPS can be designed to fit to a potentially vast amount of locks, removing the potential for error and simplifying the research process. For this reason, they are increasingly being considered as an alternative to antibodies, affirmers and aptamers, and have the potential to compete in many similar markets on a global scale.

Dr Sharon Spencer, Director of Technology Commercialisation at the University said: “The investment by Mercia Fund Management into the MIP technology is testament to its potential as an innovative research tool. MIP Diagnostics Ltd has evolved from work initiated at Cranfield University and has been supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust. Our work with Mercia will enable the company to provide a range of custom-made MIPs and support the integration of MIPs into a new range of diagnostic applications.”