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Maxion Therapeutics secures £13 million to bring game changing antibody drugs to market

BGF News 02.15.2023

Biotechnology company Maxion Therapeutics has raised £13 million from BGF, LifeArc Ventures and Monograph Capital.

The funds will be used to support the development of novel biologics targeting ion channel and G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), via Maxion’s proprietary, patent-protected KnotBody® platform.

Ion channels and GPCRs are critical cell surface proteins involved in a wide range of previously untreatable or poorly-treated diseases, including autoimmune conditions and chronic pain

As part of the financing Lucy Edwardes Jones (Investor at BGF), Sohaib Mir (Senior Investment Principal at LifeArc Ventures) and Tim Funnell (Partner at Monograph Capital) will join Maxion’s Board of Directors.

Maxion was established by its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. John McCafferty, who co-founded CAT (acquired by AstraZeneca for £700m) and IONTAS (acquired by FairJourney Biologics).

At CAT, Dr. McCafferty co-invented antibody phage display, the technology used to discover the world’s best-selling drug, Humira®, and the subject of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Maxion’s Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder is Dr. Aneesh Karatt Vellatt (also co-founder of IONTAS), who along with Dr. McCafferty invented the KnotBody platform.

While multiple small molecule drugs have been developed against ion channels, there are no approved antibody drugs addressing this target class, despite the many advantages of antibodies. Antibodies have the benefit of greater specificity, a superior safety profile, and the ability to engineer their properties using McCafferty’s phage display technology.

The KnotBody platform unlocks the discovery of biologics against ion channels and GPCRs by using naturally occurring cysteine-rich miniproteins called “knottins”, which modulate ion channels and GPCRs but have poor drug-like properties. These are fused onto the surface of antibodies, and the resulting “KnotBodies” combine the functional activity of knottins with the excellent drug properties of antibodies. Maxion’s early R&D efforts have yielded KnotBodies to several therapeutically relevant targets, which will be developed as selective and long-acting first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics.

Maxion’s KnotBody technology has significant potential to unlock the discovery of new drugs for challenging disease targets. We look forward to working closely with Maxion’s highly experienced management team and our co-investors to build significant value in the company as a result of this partnership.

Lucy Edwardes Jones, BGF Investor 

“Until now, ion channels have been a blind spot for antibody therapeutics,” said John McCafferty, CEO and co-founder of Maxion Therapeutics. “Our KnotBody technology gives Maxion the opportunity to address this neglected target class and enable improved treatment of diseases driven by ion channels and GPCRs. We look forward to working with our investors to expand our promising pipeline.”

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