In an exciting development for biotechnology, ImmuONE, a UK-based venture, born out of the University of Hertfordshire, has secured a substantial £2 million investment. The funds were provided by a consortium that includes the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, which operates under Mercia Ventures and forms a vital part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF). Other notable contributors are Mercia's EIS funds and the Pioneer Group, which has previously supported startups like BlueSkeye AI and Nuvision.
This substantial investment will facilitate ImmuONE's relocation to new headquarters in Milton Keynes and the establishment of state-of-the-art laboratories in Stevenage, aimed at meeting the surging demand for its innovative solutions.
Moreover, these funds are set to bolster the company's capacity expansion, further its research and development endeavors, strengthen its team, and create six new job positions.
Founded in 2019 by UK scientists Dr. Abigail Martin and Professor Victoria Hutter, ImmuONE has developed an extraordinary 3D human lung model capable of evaluating the safety of new drugs without relying on animal testing.
Their innovative approach enables companies in the business of creating new products, be it pharmaceuticals, chemicals, or cosmetics, to satisfy legal requirements by demonstrating the safety of their products for human consumption and general usage. The current safety assessments are traditionally based on animal testing, which is known for its inability to accurately predict the real impact of these products on human beings. The conventional method employs lung-scraping to obtain human cells, a highly invasive procedure that provides tissue only from the upper lung.
In contrast, ImmuONE's groundbreaking methodology entails the cultivation of human lower lung tissue and immune cells within a controlled laboratory setting, resulting in a remarkable 3D model. This not only enables companies to entirely eliminate animal testing but also empowers them to gauge the impact of their products on the small airways and inflammation within the human lung.
With an ever-expanding global clientele, including prestigious chemical and consumer product companies, ImmuONE has earned its reputation and significance in the industry.
Dr. Abigail Martin, Co-Founder of ImmuONE, expressed, “Having worked on drug development projects that involve animal testing, I’ve seen the difference that new drugs can make to patients’ lives. However, I felt there had to be a better way and set out to look for an alternative. Our model not only enables companies to move away from animal testing but also improves safety for patients too. We look forward to working with many more clients and scaling the business with a view to global expansion in the future.”
Hannah Tapsell of Mercia added, “Around 90% of drugs shown to be safe and effective in animals do not work as planned in humans, which is one reason for the high failure rate in drug discovery. With growing demand for more effective testing models and pressure from consumers to replace animal testing, ImmuONE fills a clear gap in the market. Abigail and Victoria have not only created a powerful innovation but also achieved remarkable success in building a fast-growing business.”
Mark Wilcockson, Senior Investment Manager at British Business Bank, highlighted, “This funding will allow ImmuONE to continue to change the way drug testing is practiced, drive change, expand the business and create new jobs.”
Dr. Imelda Juniarsih, Investment Associate Director at Pioneer Group, expressed pride in their investment in ImmuONE, a groundbreaking company with the potential to revolutionize drug development. The removal of animal testing is a significant step forward, meeting the evolving business demands in this field. As champions of innovation in the biotech sector, they eagerly anticipate supporting ImmuONE in its ongoing journey.