TRx Biosciences launched with blessing of Yusuf Hamied and Babraham Research Campus


Robin Bannister, TRx Biosciences’ CEO, said Cipla chairman Dr Yusuf Hamied is “a super investor to have on board” at the launch of TRx Biosciences on Babraham Research Campus yesterday (Tuesday).

TRx Biosciences’ novel drug targeting technology, which uses the lymphatic system to circulate treatments, has the potential to disrupt how small molecule drugs might be delivered. The team comprises Dr Bannister, CSO John Brew and CBO Dan Gooding, formerly of Nuformix: Dr Hamied is the sole investor in Cambridge’s newest healthcare start-up.

“This is a big deal for us,” Dr Bannister told the Cambridge Independent. “It gets the first financing away, and Yusuf is a super investor to have on board – he’s well experienced in pharmaceutical expertise, and he’s a Fellow of Christ’s College as well as being an experienced philanthropist.”

Dr Hamied is one of Cambridge’s most enthusiastic supporters, both as a philanthropist – the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry was so named in 2020 – and as an investor.

“I’ve known Yusuf for many years,” added Dr Bannister. “I’ve worked with him on projects and visited him in India, so it was obvious to think of him when TRx started.”

Dr Hamied arrived in Cambridge to study chemistry in 1954 and went on to achieve a PhD in the city. His Fellowship of Christ’s College and subsequent work ensuring developing countries received AIDS vaccines regardless of their ability to pay has earned him ‘modern-day Robin Hood’ status. A billionaire, he currently chairs Cipla, which is based in Mumbai, India.

Dr Hamied said: “I stayed back for three years for my doctorate because of Lord Alexander Todd [Chemistry Nobel Prize winner in 1957 and a former Master of Christ’s College].

“After 1960 when I did the PhD at Cambridge I went to India and worked in the pharmaceutical industry, but over the years my love for Cambridge has continued and I’m looking at many Cambridge companies.

“What TRx is doing is repurposing and repositioning drugs. We work with what is in the world and give it another form.

“I’ve known Robin for a number of years and I like to keep an interest in Cambridge science, all for healthcare. Ultimately you are backing human beings rather than the product and Robin has a very good team.”

Dr Bannister said of the occasion: “This is a big deal for us and for Babraham. It’s a super site to set up on, it works extremely well as an incubator facility and I feel proud to come back.”

Dr Bannister was a founder at Arakis, which was based at Babraham. Arakis was acquired by Sosei for £106.5m in 2005.

“Arakis was founded in 2000, that was when John and I started working together, and we’ve been working together ever since.

“Babraham has massively accelerated since then. It’s an inspirational campus. It’s just what Cambridge needs because as companies mature there’s a need for more new shoots to come up.

“And I’m super-excited to be working with Dan [Gooding, CBO] who I’ve wanted to work with for years.”

Derek Jones, who joined Babraham Research Campus as chief business officer in 2008 and is now chief executive of Babraham Research Campus Ltd, said: “Early-stage life science companies such as TRx Biosciences are exactly the sort of enterprises the Babraham Research Campus, its facilities and community are set up to support.

“Being able to provide serial entrepreneurs, such as Dr Robin Bannister and his team, the laboratory space and capability they need to confirm their scientific hypothesis and attract investors is a distinct feature of the Campus. I am sure that the experience of the founders and their previous success in raising finance and bringing products to market for the benefit of patients, will lead them to future success too. I was also delighted to hear of Dr Hamied’s participation in the funding of this endeavour.

“I expect that his vast experience and networks can only add greater confidence in the growth of TRx Biosciences and the development of therapeutic products. We are pleased that we have been able to play a small part in the TRx Biosciences story.”

Published: 15.10.21

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