Stemgent Invests $4.5 Million, Announces Formation of Ubiquigent, a New UK-Listed Biotechnology Company Based in Dundee, Scotland
BOSTON and SAN DIEGO, March 3 /PRNewswire/ — Stemgent, Inc., a biotechnology company based in San Diego, California, and Boston, Massachusetts, USA, announced today the formation of Ubiquigent Ltd, a new biotechnology company based in Dundee, Scotland. As part of the agreement, Stemgent will invest approximately $4.5 million (3 million pounds Sterling) in the new venture over the next three years.
According to the terms of the agreement, Ubiquigent will produce biological products and services generated by the SCottish Institute for ceLL Signalling (SCILLS) at the University of Dundee. Stemgent will handle initial marketing of Ubiquigent products in the US; arrangements for Europe and the rest of the world will be announced in the near future.
SCILLS is directed by Sir Philip Cohen and concentrates on an emerging area of cell signalling called protein ubiquitylation, which is said to have great potential for the development of drugs to treat cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
First Employees Hired
Ubiquigent reports it has already recruited its first three employees and that they have been based in SCILLS for the past four months where they have been working closely with the Protein Production and Assay Development Team of SCILLS in preparation for the initial product launch.
Keith Brown, Scottish Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning said, “This is an excellent investment for Dundee and for Scotland’s life sciences sector. Our pioneering research and technology is globally renowned. We have a clear academic lead in this field. The Scottish Government is fully committed to growing this sector and maximising the talent within the sector. This is why we met our manifesto commitment and invested 10 million pounds Sterling to establish a life sciences institute in Dundee, the SCILLS unit, and provided 3 million pounds Sterling to support the recruitment of up to 100 new apprentices within the life sciences sector last year.
“Stemgent, Inc has chosen Scotland, Dundee, to set up its first company overseas. The world class talent, skills and technology within the SCILLS unit at the University of Dundee is undoubtedly a huge factor in this move. I wish the new company, Ubiquigent Ltd, and all the team in SCILLS the very best in this exciting venture.”
Attracting New Biotechnology Companies to Scotland
Commenting on the agreement, Sir Philip said, “The initial aim of SCILLS has been to build up a critical mass of leading scientists researching the ubiquitin system. The longer term aim is to attract new biotechnology companies to Scotland and to facilitate the development of improved drugs to treat diseases that target components of the ubiquitin system.
“It is therefore extremely exciting and most gratifying that Ubiquigent Ltd has been formed just one year after the launch of SCILLS, several years earlier than the predictions I made in my business plan!”
SCILLS is the world’s first research unit dedicated to the study of protein ubiquitylation, a process which regulates almost all aspects of cell life. Abnormalities in this process are a cause of cancer as well as chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
The formation of Ubiquigent renews Sir Philip’s acquaintance with Stemgent and Ubiquigent’s chief executive officer Ian Ratcliffe, who previously played a key role in helping establish the European division of Upstate in Dundee in 1999, a company that markets proteins and other services needed for the study of protein phosphorylation to the academic community and pharmaceutical industry.
“I am delighted to be working once again with Ian Ratcliffe with whom I had such a productive collaboration when he was with Upstate,” said Sir Philip.
“The European Division of Upstate was set up in Dundee to exploit reagents and technologies developed by the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, of which I am also the Director, and I am confident that the collaboration between Ubiquigent and SCILLS will be equally successful. I would also like to thank the Scottish Government for providing the funding to set up SCILLS, without which the formation of Ubiquigent would never have happened.”
Ratcliffe’s Second Business Venture in Dundee
Ian Ratcliffe, Chief Executive Officer of Stemgent and Ubiquigent added, “This is my second business venture in Dundee and we are confident our strategy and timing are right for success. At Stemgent we are highly energized to be working with Sir Philip and his team of world class scientists in a rapidly evolving new drug target area, Ubiquitylation. This is a fascinating scientific field – the role and mechanism of action of most of the proteins involved in the complex biology of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP) are still to be fully understood, and only some of the tools necessary to do this exist today.”
According to Mr. Ratcliffe, “Working with the Protein Ubiquitylation Unit of SCILLS, Ubiquigent will develop high performance, application-tested reagents, kits and services that will help the scientific community make discoveries in the field leading to the development of valuable new drugs.”
Mr. Ratcliffe previously worked with Upstate as its Chief Financial Officer (1997-2001), Executive Vice President of Sales and Innovation (2001-2003) and President and Chief Operating Officer (2003-2004). In these positions he played a key role in setting up the European Division of Upstate at the Dundee Technology Park in 1999, and directing its operations until it was acquired by Serologicals for $205 million in 2004. Serologicals was subsequently purchased by Millipore in 2006.
Stemgent advances stem cell science by providing proprietary reagents and tools developed by some of the world’s leading stem cell scientists. Stemgent’s product offering has been specifically optimized for and screened against stem cells, and includes small molecules for pluripotency, self-renewal, and differentiation, viral-delivered transcription factors, matrices, cell lines, cytokines, antibodies, transfection reagents, and more. This unique product mix is designed to serve researchers who study stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, and those who use cells derived from stem cells as tools to advance their understanding of major diseases. With dual headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, and San Diego, California, Stemgent is well positioned to serve these major research markets.
For more information on Stemgent, please visit: http://www.stemgent.com.
Working in collaboration with The Protein Ubiquitylation Unit of SCILLS and other world class ubiquitin research labs, Ubiquigent is developing cutting edge validated reagents and kits for the research community that will help advance understanding of the biology of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP). Through its close relationship with the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at Dundee, also directed by Sir Philip Cohen, Ubiquigent will additionally support researchers studying how the ubiquitin system is involved in other cellular processes modulated by enzymes called kinases. Over the past 15 years, kinase targets have been the focus of many drug discovery companies and Ubiquigent anticipates that, as the research community further unravels mechanisms and pathways of the UPP, the opportunities for developing drugs that target components of this system will increase. Ubiquigent is dedicated to developing assays, kits and services to support the rapidly growing interest in this field.
For more information on Ubiquigent, please visit: http://www.ubiquigent.com
About the SCottish Institute for ceLL Signalling (SCILLS)
Launched in October 2008 with funding of 10 million pounds Sterling from the Scottish Government for the next five years, SCILLS is located in the Sir James Black Centre at the College of Life Sciences, University of Dundee. The major aims of the SCILLS Protein Ubiquitylation Unit are to advance understanding of the role of protein ubiquitylation and related modifications in cell regulation and human disease, to facilitate the development of drugs to treat diseases caused by abnormalities in this process, to generate reagents and improve technologies on which more rapid progress in this area depends. It will also train the next generation of scientists who will advance the subject in the future. http://www.scills.ac.uk
New anti-cancer drugs that target components of the ubiquitin system
Drugs that target components of the ubiquitin system are predicted to become of major importance to the pharmaceutical industry in the future. The first drug developed in this area, Velcade/Bortezomib, was approved for clinical use in 2007. Developed by Millenium Pharmaceuticals, this compound is being used to treat haematological tumours, such as multiple myeloma and relapsed mantle cell lymphoma. Millenium have developed a second anti-cancer drug that has recently entered clinical trials that targets another component of the ubiquitin system.
SOURCE Stemgent, Inc.