The University’s IP Commercialisation Team worked closely with the founding academics, Professors Steve Rannard and Andrew Owen, to establish the spinout in 2019 and recruited Antony Odell as CEO to drive forward commercial activity. The University has provided significant start-up capital for the company.
Malaria, tuberculosis and hepatitis C disproportionately affect poor and marginalised communities including children and adults living with HIV. The burden from these diseases in low- and middle-income (LMIC) countries is estimated at 300M people with more than 2M deaths per year. However, the high cost of drugs prevents access in the most severely affected nations.
Long-acting technologies can address multiple issues around the world with global benefits, and are ideal for use in LMICs with overstretched healthcare systems. Medicine can be delivered through a single injection that targets pathogens over longer periods, which means there is a reduced need for daily pills. This increases patient compliance, reduces the likelihood of treatment failure and relieves the financial burden on community healthcare delivery.
Pioneering research developed by the Centre of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT), as part of the Unitaid-funded LONGEIVITY project, is accelerating global efforts to make cheaper therapies available to more people by reformulating existing therapeutic interventions into long-acting injectables and other formulations using solid-drug-nanoparticles. Tandem Nano acts as the commercial development partner in the LONGEVITY programme and concluded a licence agreement with MPP (a United Nations-backed public health organisation.)
CELT was launched in January 2021 based on the work of Professors Andrew Owen and Steve Rannard and the centre works with partner institutions to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of stakeholder engagement. To ensure that the candidate long-acting therapeutics are available to the poorest countries at affordable prices, the CELT team opted for a non-profit and non-exclusive development pathway, licensing medicines for charitable use through a partnership with Medicine Patent Pool. The next step for Medicine Patent Pool and Tandem Nano will be engaging relevant stakeholders towards licensing to suitable developers and manufacturers.
The solid drug nanoparticle technology was initially conceived in the Department of Chemistry, and have been in development for over 15 years. The cross-faculty nature of the research, between research teams in Chemistry and Pharmacology, is critical to its success, but not without its own challenges. The IP Commercialisation Team continue to work closely with the academic teams to support intellectual property protection, licensing decisions and strategic portfolio planning, and the academic team maintain a worldwide network of academic, industrial and charitable collaborators and external funding sources.
This extraordinary work shows how solutions can be achieved via engaged academics working across faculties and disciplines. Spinout companies with a strong management team can act as commercialisation partners to take technologies to market and develop strong commercial relationships with funders and stakeholders. In the case of Tandem Nano this is expected to accelerate technology development to tackle the biggest global challenges of the 21st century. Product adoption and commercialisation is anticipated to result in both significant public health benefits and positive economic impact.
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