A new spin-out company from the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, XO1 Ltd, has raised $11m to develop an anticoagulant drug with the potential to save millions of lives by preventing heart attacks without causing bleeding, the side effect of all antithrombotic agents such as warfarin.
The drug Ichorcumab is a synthetic antibody based on an antibody found in a patient who presented with a subdural haematoma at Addenbrooke’s A&E after suffering a head injury. The patient was treated by Dr Baglin (consultant haematologist), and results from laboratory tests on her blood were consistent with severe haemophilia. However, the patient recovered without any intervention.
This observation led to Dr Baglin and his colleague Professor Jim Huntington based in CIMR to identify the inhibitor, and to determine why it rendered the patient’s blood unclottable and yet did not cause the patient to bleed. Anti-coagulent angents are widely used to prevent thrombosis – a major cause of heart attacks and strokes, however there still needs to be blood clotting to prevent bleeding. This fine balance limits the usefulness of all anti-coagulents. Ichorcumab has the potential to break the link and allow powerful anticoagulation without increasing the risk of bleeding. ‘This is the Holy Grail of thrombosis research, and the formation of XO1 will allow us to determine if we have indeed found it in Ichorcumab’, said Prof. Huntington. The team at XO1 expect to begin clinical trials in human volunteers within two years.