clinical trialImperial Innovations Group plc notes that portfolio company TopiVert Pharma Ltd has started a Phase I study with its lead compound, TOP1288, in ulcerative colitis (UC) a common inflammatory disease affecting the large bowel.

TOP1288 is a Narrow Spectrum Kinase Inhibitor (NSKI) a novel class of small molecules with specific characteristics designed to deliver local effects in inflammatory cells whilst avoiding significant systemic exposure. The Phase I study is being conducted at a specialist centre in London and will report in 2016.

TopiVert is clinical-stage biotech focused on pioneering topical treatments for serious inflammatory diseases.  The company was formed in December 2011, following an investment of £8.0 million by Innovations and SV Life Sciences.

In December 2013, TopiVert raised a further £17.0 million in a funding round which brought in new investors Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation and Neomed Management, alongside Innovations and SV Life Sciences. At 31 January 2015, the group had a 33.1% interest in TopiVert with a fair value of £6.0 million.

Maina Bhaman, Director of Healthcare Ventures, Imperial Innovations said: “We are delighted with the progress that TopiVert’s experienced management team has made in taking its first product into the clinic. Ulcerative Colitis is a debilitating condition that arises because the body’s immune system is triggered to produce an inflammatory reaction in the intestinal tract that leads to damage of the intestinal wall. It is commonly treated with corticosteroids but for many patients this proves to be unsatisfactory either because they fail to respond or because they become dependent upon steroids to maintain disease remission.”

“For such patients, the current option is to move to an immunosuppressant or a systemic biologic treatment. However, TopiVert is developing a novel topical treatment which could provide a locally acting drug in the colon without systemic side-effects.  This would provide significant relief for many sufferers of this disease.”