Cancer and heart disease drug discovery company is latest spin-out from Southampton University

Southampton, UK – 21 July 2005 – A new spin-out company from the University of Southampton is aiming to make the treatment of cancer and heart disease more patient friendly.

Chemist Dr A. Ganesan from the School of Chemistry, cancer scientist Dr Graham Packham and heart biologist Dr Paul Townsend from the School of Medicine have come together to create Karus Therapeutics, a company that plans to develop novel drugs known as histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors to treat cancer and heart disease.

There has been intense interest in industry in HDAC inhibitors, which can slow abnormal cell growth, cause controlled cell death and/or correct abnormal cell differentiation in tumours. The next generation products to be developed by Karus are expected to offer patients a potent and less toxic treatment than their predecessors.

Karus Therapeutics builds on highly successful academic collaborations between different disciplines at the University,” said Dr Packham. “There have always been strong links between chemistry and medicine and, if we work together and combine our knowledge, we can achieve great things.

The new spin-out has received £750,000, a record level of joint seedcorn funding from IP2IPO, the early stage technology transfer specialists, and the SULIS fund, a seed fund owned by the Universities of Southampton, Bath and Bristol. It is the 15th company to be spun out of the University of Southampton since 2000, two of which have already listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Commenting on the formation of the new company, David Norwood, Chief Executive of IP2IPO said: “This is potentially a world leading technology in an important therapeutic area.”

Dr Tony Raven, Director of the University of Southampton’s Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI), said: “The launch of Karus Therapeutics demonstrates our continued success in developing high quality research into high quality commercial opportunities. The excellence of our chemistry, cancer and heart specialists combined with the business expertise and acumen in the CEI, and funding opportunities from IP2IPO and SULIS all contribute to an enviable track record in commercialisation.