A Bristol-based company that is developing new cell therapies to treat cancer has raised £1.1 million in funding.

CytoSeek, a new spin-out from the University of Bristol, has been backed by a number of organisations as Bristol becomes recognised as a centre for biotechnology.

The funding has come from ten local entrepreneurs, who are all members of the Bristol Private Equity Club; the Venture Capitalist fund UKI2S and the University of Bristol Enterprise Fund managed by Parkwalk.

CytoSeek, based at the Unit DX incubator in St Philips, Bristol has developed a cell membrane augmentation technology and will be applying this for new ways to tackle cancer. The process involves modifying a patient’s own immune cells to “supercharge” them against cancer cells.

Professor Adam Perriman, who is Professor of Bioengineering in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (University of Bristol), and founder of CytoSeek, said: “At the moment cell therapies of this kind are only used in the treatment of cancers in the blood, such as leukaemia. We are looking at ways that cell therapy can also be used for solid tumours, which are responsible for 85% of cancer related deaths. To do this we have developed a protein-based cellular paint that can be put on cells to improve their cancer-killing performance.

“In the last three years Bristol has created an incredible environment for the clinical translation of science to biotechnology, and it is fantastic to have local financial support. This funding will help us to rapidly accelerate the pre-clinical validation of the technology, which will help get it to the clinic faster.

Jerry Barnes, founder of Bristol Private Equity Club, said: “Ten of our members have put their money and business expertise behind CytoSeek as biotech businesses like this need the financial backing in their early years to enable them to make progress.

“It is exciting that work going on in Bristol today may lead to breakthroughs in treatment that could benefit people throughout the world in the future.”

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director of UKI2S, said: “UKI2S was the founding investor in CytoSeek supporting its early growth and following again in this latest round. We’re excited about the potential to improve efficacy across a range of immuno-oncology therapies.”

Keith MacDonald, Chairman of CytoSeek, said: “We’re pleased to have closed our latest investment round so quickly – now our research team can focus on bringing this important science to the clinic. Getting the backing of local angel investors and national venture capital funds is a real boost – these seasoned entrepreneurs know a promising business when they see it. CytoSeek’s deep tech will make a real impact in medicine.”

Issued on behalf of Bristol Private Equity Club by Empica