In November 2015, SyndicateRoom members invested alongside Dr Steve Chambers to help Cell Guidance Systems exceed its funding target, raising a total of £378,108 to accelerate its ‘Pods R&D programme’.
According to Evaluate Pharma, the protein drug market, worth $154bn in 2010, is expected to grow to $234bn by 2018. However, proteins degrade quickly, leading to a short shelf life which has prevented further growth in the market.
Cell Guidance Systems has created and patented a potential solution: an innovative technology called Pods™. Pods™ provides a unique solution to protein instability by encaging proteins within crystal armour, protecting them right through to the moment when they are slowly released to their target. This is a huge breakthrough, and, to the company's knowledge, there are no similar technologies in existence or development.
The CEO of Cell Guidance Systems is Michael Jones, who spent 3 years at Cambridge University as a research associate, followed by 8 years leading a cancer research team for Chugai Pharmaceuticals (part of the Roche group), and 4 years in a corporate development role for Life Technologies (a large US corporation) with primary responsibility for licensing activities in Asia Pacific. He also worked for 2 years in venture capital with Atlas Venture and Orion HEP. Before founding Cell Guidance Systems, Michael was COO of Reprocell: a Japanese stem cell company with a current market capitalization of >$250m.
The lead investor, Dr Steve Chambers, was a founding partner in Adgen Ltd, which was sold to Nasdaq-listed Neogen Corporation. Of Cell Guidance Systems, he said, ‘Cell Guidance Systems’ first pitch was clear, informative and made sense, generating income and not getting too far ahead of themselves in the early stages. A sensible approach without the hyperbole. Proven repeat sales to market was very much a tick in my book. Cell Guidance Systems’ biggest strength is having a competent and complementary management team being at the right place at the right time’.
Where are they now?
Cell Guidance Systems has a loyal customer base which includes pharmaceutical companies such as AstraZeneca and Roche as well as almost all major UK universities and many in Europe and the US. It is now preparing for expansion, funded by the current investment round, and has begun recruitment for new scientists.
In October 2015, sales revenues reached a record high. This is the fourth time that Cell Guidance Systems has broken its own monthly sales record this year, and there might soon be a fifth, as sales revenues for November are expected to trump October. Furthermore, as of November, revenues for 2015 are already up 45% on the whole of 2014, demonstrating astounding growth for the company.
In November 2015, Cell Guidance Systems reported making good progress in cementing its collaborations with partners in a variety of areas to exploit Pods™ technology. This includes research for Parkinson’s disease, spinal injury, wound healing, vaccine delivery and stem cell culture. The company also noted strong interest from a pharmaceutical partner for development of the technology for oral delivery of antibodies.