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Axol Biosciences at Chesterford Research Park, the company producing human cells for research, eliminating the need for animal testing, is hoping to raise £600,000 via Cambridge-based SyndicateRoom.

The company, founded by Jonathan Milner, who also founded Abcam, has already raised 50% of its target, with Dr Darrin Disley (pictured), chief executive of Horizon Group in Cambridge, the lead investor.

Axol Biosciences uses Nobel Prize winning IP to produce its human stem cell-derived cells for research.

Current clients include Janssen, Pfizer, Lilly and Nestle, along with Harvard University, Kings College London, the University of Oxford and Aston University.

The company is currently valued at £6.3m and was founded two years ago.

In order to develop new therapies and chemicals for human use, drugs need to be tested.

Pharmaceutical companies are obliged to extensively test new drugs, but due to a lack of human tissue and cells available for testing, animal testing is commonplace, even though it is costly, increasingly controversial and suffers from high failure rates. In essence, this lack of human tissue available for testing drives the famously high pharmaceutical R&D costs.

Axol creates stem cells from human blood and skin cells which can then be turned into heart cells, brain cells and blood vessel cells. These human cell types, derived in the labs of Axol, have been used by many pharmaceutical companies and research institutes.

Two years into operation, Axol has already totalled revenues in excess of $1 million from a roster of blue chip clients. This is very rare for a biotechnology company, given that they are often loss making for long periods of time.

Axol’s solution addresses a market currently worth $10.8bn and set to rise to $18bn by 2020, driven by a growth in the use of human cells and reduced reliance on animal testing.

Axol has a strong R&D team and partner with a number of research centres and biotechnology companies. The company’s long-term goal is to provide a platform where researchers can pick and choose human cell types derived from healthy or diseased individuals for specific research purposes, revolutionising the drug testing market.

Axol is raising additional funds to accelerate revenue growth and begin international expansion. The company plan this round to be its final fundraise before becoming profitable and exiting, most likely via an IPO, in four to five years.

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