Celixr is revolutionary in the field of regenerative medicine. The brainchild of Ajan Reginald and Nobel Laureate Sir Martin Evans, Celixir was founded in 2009. This biotech company is leading the charge in the search for new and innovative ways that stem cells can be used to transform patient healthcare.
Celixir is a platform where leading scientists and biotechnology leadership are devoted to stem cell therapy and discovering breakthroughs and medical advances that will change the way in which patients are cared for and treated. A world class biotechnology company driven by in-house discoveries, Celixir has created over 20 tissue-specific regenerative medicines in its short 10 year existence. A feat rarely achieved in the field of regenerative medicine.
With a focus on developing cell therapies and gene therapies, this UK based company is researching ways in which incurable diseases can finally be cured and poorly treated diseases can be better managed, including cancer and heart failure, as heart disease is the leading cause of death currently in Western Europe.
Celixir is incredibly proud of its initial investigational cardiac regenerative medicine, Heartcel™. Heartcel™ is a treatment that targets patients with ischaemic heart disease undergoing coronary artery bypass graft, with just a 30% survival rate at 1 year.
But Celixir’s focus isn’t just on heart disease, the team have their sights firmly fixed on all areas of medicine that could benefit from stem cell therapy, including oncology, diabetes, orthopedics and dermatology. Because that is the beauty of stem cells – their potential use are innumerable.
The Celixir team
Ajan Reginald, CEO and co-founder of Celixir is a biotech entrepreneur with a medical background. He’s a graduate of London Hospital School of Medicine and Dentistry with an MSc from The University of Oxford in Experimental Therapeutics and an MBA in Biotechnology from the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University.
Ajan, born in Sri Lanka, raised in the UK, is a keen hockey player, dedicated to the game both on and off the field. A freak accident whilst playing hockey led to him retiring from the world of dentistry following the diagnosis of a visual impairment. Unable to continue working as a dentist, Ajan sought to retrain in business and management, winning the UK Fulbright Scholarship.
His experience in the field of biotech was garnered not least by serving as the Global Head of Emerging Technologies and Business Development Director at Roche, where he was responsible for the breakthrough developments in their biopharm technologies and products. He is also a former Boston Consulting Group Consultant.
Professor Sir Martin Evans
Sir Martin is the President and Chief Scientific Officer at Celixir, a British biologist who was part of the team that first cultured mice embryonic stem cells and cultivated them in 1981, in a lab. Since then, Sir Martin has been involved in gene targeting and in 2007, alongside Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition of his work and his part in the discovery of, and contribution towards, developing new treatments for human illnesses. In his extensive career Sir Martin has published over 120 scientific papers and received numerous awards for his continuing groundbreaking medical research.
Ajan and Sir Martin have worked together for over 10 years now, their shared belief that they could develop better medicines than those currently on the market, faster and cheaper, saw them set up in business.
As close friends and professional colleagues, they have weathered many a business storm, overcome tough times and facilitated critical discussions that might have broken a weaker partnership. The level of trust they have built up means they can not only be incredibly open with one another, but they can be intensely critical of one another, all with the aim of continuous improvement.
As hands on founders, Ajan and Sir Martin have unique expertise that means they aren’t just the company’s founders and financial backers, they are instrumental in bringing about the revolutionary stem cell therapies. Because the field of regenerative medicine requires all those who work in it to have an unprecedented level of expertise, particularly scientific expertise. Drug development is a complex and often times ambiguous process that requires select problem solving abilities and discipline, in order to see the development of the drug through to completion.
Celixir PLC became the poster child in 2017 for biotech companies seeking crowdfunding after giving their 300 investors the opportunity to sell their shares for 2.7 times the return on their initial investments made in 2014.
Celixir, initially self-funded by the co-founders, raised further funds during a crowdfunding campaign in 2014 which saw the company raise almost £700k on Crowdcube, 176% above its target amount, in just over 10 days. This crowdfunded cash was instantly put to good use developing Celixir’s pioneering Heartcel™ treatment, a medicine designed to tackle global heart failure.
Celixir Crowdfunding included Crowdcube.
Most recently Celixir has published a positive study that showed a promising cancer gene therapy programme reduced colon and breast cancer cell lines, using small interfering RNA.
The Celixir study results showed that all four of Celixir’s siRNA molecules had reduced the number of live colon and breast cancer cells in vitro by approximately 50% within 7 days.
These siRNA molecules are being developed by Celixir with the aim of using them as novel cancer gene therapies as they are able to block intracellular cancer targets, targets that conventional cancer medicines can not reach.
All four of Celixir’s siRNA molecules were able to block the intracellular cancer target STAT6. STAT6 is found in hard to treat cancers and cancers that are resistant to conventional drugs, cancers such as breast, colon, lung, pancreatic and prostate. All of these cancers have an increased malignancy and poor prognosis.
These early stage results are thus incredibly promising, adding to Celixir’s oncology gene therapy pipeline, and as this is the first publication from their oncology portfolio, it sets the stage for further novel cell and gene therapies.