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Maxion Therapeutics awarded £2M Innovate UK funding to develop ion channel antibodies to treat autoimmune diseases

Biotechnology company Maxion Therapeutics has been awarded a £2 million grant from Innovate UK, as part of its Biomedical Catalyst 2022 Round 2: Industry-led R&D funding competition. The funds will support the use of Maxion’s proprietary KnotBody platform to develop antibodies to treat autoimmune diseases (AID) with high unmet clinical need.

The funding follows Maxion’s Series A financing round in February 2023 from which it raised £13 million.
The effective treatment of AID remains an important medical challenge and a significant area of unmet medical need. Currently, 4% of the world’s population, or around 300 million people, are thought to be suffering from over 80 different autoimmune conditions. In the UK alone, 4 million people live with an autoimmune condition, with the incidence increasing by 3-9% annually.

Antibody-based therapies have transformed the way chronic conditions like autoimmune disorders are treated, providing enhanced efficacy and safety while reducing the need for frequent administration. However, despite the success of current antibody therapies such as Humira, a significant proportion of patients do not respond well to treatment. Moreover, these therapies can lead to broad immunosuppression, increasing the risk of infections. As such, novel treatments are required that can offer broader patient coverage while minimising adverse effects.

Maxion Therapeutics awarded £2M Innovate UK funding to develop ion channel antibodies to treat autoimmune diseases

Innovative molecular fusion

Several ion channels are implicated in the pathogenesis of AID, but these critical cell surface proteins are seen as a complex target class for antibodies, with no antibody-based drugs targeting ion channels currently approved or in clinical development. At Maxion, nature has provided the answer in the form of “miniproteins” (knottins) that block ion channels. When knottins are fused onto the surface of antibodies, the resulting “KnotBodies” combine the ion channel-blocking activity of knottins with the excellent drug properties of antibodies, including long half-life in the body and the ability to further engineer their properties. This innovative molecular fusion approach serves as the foundation for Maxion’s patented KnotBody platform technology. The company’s early R&D efforts have yielded KnotBodies to ion channel targets involved in AID, which will be further developed as selective and long-acting first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics using Innovate UK