A spin-out company can be the best way to assemble a team of dedicated scientists and experts and source the significant investment needed to develop a technology.
We have all the necessary support and expertise in house to enable new companies to be formed based on the Crick’s research.
George Kassiotis is one of the scientific co-founders of Enara Bio, a Crick spin-out company developing cancer-specific vaccines and other immunotherapies. George’s team worked with the Crick’s translation team, including an Expert in Residence, Houman Ashrafian, to build the company and the team went on to win the Crick’s Sir David Cooksey Prize in Translation in 2018.
Enara Bio’s approach is based on ‘endogenous retroviruses’ or viral DNA, dormant fragments of DNA left in our genome by viruses that infected our ancestors. When a cell becomes cancerous, it can reactivate these dormant sections of our DNA, sending signals visible to our immune system. Enara Bio hopes to train the immune system to spot these signals and create vaccines that selectively target cancer cells.
Mihaly Kollo, a researcher in Andreas Schaefer’s group at the Crick, is part of a team developing an AI-powered map of research literature to help scientists navigate the ever-increasing number of scientific papers.
With the help of the Crick's translation team and an i2i (idea to innovation) grant funded by the MRC, the company was able to work with a specialist data scientist to create a unique machine learning system that ‘reads’ papers and extracts the experimental methods and results. The program can then compare similar studies, as well as show gaps in previous research where more work could be done.
HERON was one of the first companies to take part in KQ Labs, the Crick’s start-up accelerator. Over the course of the accelerator programme, the ten start-ups were trained in pitching, building a team and acquiring funding.