An Edinburgh based biotech company has closed a growth funding round worth £7.44 million.

Macomics, an immuno-oncology company with “world-leading” expertise in macrophage biology, secured follow-on financing of £4.24 million from its 2020 seed round.

The latest investment brings in new investor Caribou Property alongside existing investors Epidarex Capital, who led the round, and Scottish Enterprise.

This comes as the company announces the growth of its leadership team, with the appointment of Dr Steve Myatt as chief executive, Dr Carola Ries as chief scientific officer, and Dr Luca Cassetta as vice president of immunology, moving from his academic role at Edinburgh University on 1 August.

The funding will be used to expand the company’s team and facilities which are based in Edinburgh and Cambridge. It will also enable Macomics to further invest in its target discovery technology.

Macomics, which was co-founded at the University of Edinburgh in 2019 by Proffesor Jeffrey Pollard and Dr Luca Cassetta, is developing precision medicines to modulate macrophages for the treatment of cancer.

It is progressing a diversified portfolio of therapies targeting disease-specific tumour-associated macrophages (‘TAMs’) towards the clinic.

Its target discovery platform enables the identification and validation of novel macrophage therapeutic targets and is based on its deep understanding of macrophage biology.

Cancer cells are known to be able to evade destruction by the immune system and TAMs are a key component of this immuno-suppressive and pro-tumoral ecosystem. Modulating TAMs will alter the tumour microenvironment, enhancing the body’s ability to fight cancer.  

The tumour microenvironment changes macrophage behaviour, and the company is exploiting disease-specific TAM biology to selectively target these immunosuppressive cells.

Dr Luca Cassetta, said: “Macomics was founded based on leading academic research around macrophage biology, particularly in cancer, from the laboratory of Professor Jeffrey Pollard, director of the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh, as well as my own research studying TAMs.

“I am delighted to be joining the company full-time to exploit the potential of macrophage-based approaches to developing novel immuno-oncology therapies that have the potential to change the lives of patients with cancer.”

New chief executive Dr Steve Myatt. Supplied/Macomics

Dr Steve Myatt, chief executive, who joined Macomics in February 2021 said: “Macomics has made great progress since formation, and I am excited to lead Macomics in driving forward its vision to become a leading immuno-oncology company pioneering macrophage-based therapies for the treatment of cancer.

“Our diversified portfolio of antibody programs combined with our proprietary target identification approach and world-class team uniquely positions us to deliver on this vision.”

New chief scientific officer Dr Carola Ries

Dr Carola Ries, who joins as chief scientific officer after 16 years at pharmaceutical company Roche added: “It is an exciting time to be joining Macomics. In recognising disease specific TAM populations Macomics is taking a new approach to macrophage-based drug discovery, one that I believe has potential to deliver significant benefit to patients.

“By combining analysis of human disease tissue, in silico data mining, and functional data from our state-of-the-art cellular models we are well placed to identify and validate new drug targets in diseases where macrophages play a central role. I look forward to applying my extensive industry experience gained at Roche to driving our programs towards the clinic.”

Dr Elizabeth Roper, partner at Epidarex Capital and investor director at Macomics said: “We are delighted with the progress that Macomics has made since we made our initial investment last year. The company has demonstrated the power of its platform and approach and has already moved two of its programs into antibody discovery and identified a series of additional targets. We are excited about its potential, reflected in our increased commitment to the company. 

Georges Aboud, chief investment officer at Caribou Property, said: “We are pleased to join the investment round, having seen the progress Macomics has made in just over 12 months. Our goal is to back exciting and innovative companies that can make an impact on patients’ lives. Macomics has shown that its knowledge of macrophage biology can deliver innovative approaches to treat cancer and it has assembled an experienced team to maximise its potential.”

Jan Robertson, interim director of growth investments at Scottish Enterprise, added: “This funding round secured by Macomics is testament to the company’s pioneering macrophage-based therapies for the treatment of cancer as well as the talent in Scotland. Scottish Enterprise is pleased to support this leading biotech firm that is now set to accelerate its research and development programmes, and expand its facilities in Edinburgh.”