University of Sheffield and Parkinson’s UK launch new virtual biotech company


The University of Sheffield and research and support charity Parkinson’s UK have launched a new virtual biotech company to develop new treatments for people with Parkinson’s.

Named Keapstone Therapeutics, the new £1m company is set to combine research from the university with funding from the charity to help develop new drugs for the disease that affects around 127,000 people in the country.

Creation of the first ‘single-asset’ spin-out company is part of Parkinson’s UK’s new Virtual Biotech venture, which was formed to combat the lost opportunities in drug discovery.

Parkinson’s UK research director Arthur Roach said: “Due to the funding gap in early stage drug discovery, there are promising scientific breakthroughs for Parkinson’s happening every day that are not being picked up and developed by commercial companies.

"Creation of the first ‘single-asset’ spin-out company is part of Parkinson’s UK’s new Virtual Biotech venture, which was formed to combat the lost opportunities in drug discovery."

“This major new programme of work will allow us to act in a similar way to a small biotech company. However, unlike a commercial company, our primary goal is the creation of new treatments to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s, regardless of commercial considerations.”

Keapstone will base its work on more than a decade of research carried out by researchers at the University’s Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) to identify a new way to bring out a possible in-built defence system that helps protect brain cells from oxidative stress.

A new class of compounds has been discovered by Dr Richard Mead from SITraN to activate the brain cell defence system.

Keapstone Therapeutics will fund Sygnature Discovery, the chemistry specialist to further develop these molecules, which are expected to eventually become new drugs that can stop the progression of Parkinson’s.