Piers Scrimshaw-Wright, MD of The Oxford Science Park and Ryan Cawood, CEO, Oxford Genetics Ltd

Piers Scrimshaw-Wright, MD of The Oxford Science Park and Ryan Cawood, CEO, Oxford Genetics Ltd

Oxford Genetics, a leading biotech that specialises in DNA design, protein and viral expression systems, and cell line engineering, has secured a £1.61 million grant from Innovate UK. The funding will support a new research project exploring computational and synthetic biology approaches for optimised mammalian bioproduction. 

In collaboration with leading researchers at the University of Oxford, Oxford Genetics will take a systematic view to enhancing bioproduction and synthetic biology. The project will explore the use of complex statistical methods to engineer robust and predictable synthetic genetic constructs for expression of multicomponent systems, as exemplified by bispecific proteins and viral vectors for gene therapy applications. 

Research will also be conducted into the optimisation of the cellular environment to better support associated biosynthetic processes, and include proof-of-concept process development for scale-up. 

Commenting on the announcement, Ryan Cawood, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford Genetics, said: “This grant means we can expedite research across our platform technologies, while demonstrating their full capabilities for enabling synthetic biology and bioproduction. The UK has world-leading expertise in cell and gene therapy in terms of both the science underpinning discovery and the ability to progress therapies to clinical testing. Developments in this area in particular highlight the need for robust, predicable and scalable bioproduction and cellular engineering technologies.”

With the global cell and gene therapy market estimated to be worth £9 to £14 billion per year by 2025, advanced therapies, including cell and gene therapies, represent a priority area for the UK’s life sciences sector. 

Oxford Genetics’ latest initiative builds on previous research programmes around the development of DNA design algorithms, automation platforms and viral packaging systems. The project aims to create a step-change in the capabilities of current bioproduction methods, meeting unmet needs in the field of viral vector production. 

Len Seymour, Professor of Gene Therapy at the University of Oxford, said: “I look forward to building on the success of our past collaborations with Oxford Genetics. Together we hope to enable significant advancements to the field of viral delivery systems.”

Zubin Siganporia, Visiting Fellow in Mathematics at the University of Oxford and Managing Director at QED Analytics, commented: “The application of complex statistical approaches to improve the understanding of biological processes, and enable predictive engineering of biological systems, is gathering significant pace. We are excited to be working with the team at Oxford Genetics to explore these innovative technologies.”