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Southampton spin-out scoops major healthcare prize for revolutionary liver disease treatments

Published: 
11 November 2005

Southampton-based company iQur has scooped the 2005 Medical Futures Department of Health Award for Best National Healthcare Innovation for its Hepatitis C diagnostic service, that can revolutionise the cost-effectiveness of treatment for Hepatitis C. iQur, formerly named HepCgen Limited, spun out from the University of Southampton in 2003.

The Medical Futures Innovations Awards are often referred to as the 'Oscars of Healthcare'. iQur was presented with the Award for its research into the detection, treatment and monitoring of Hepatitis C and other liver diseases at the awards ceremony in London.

Accepting the Award from supermodel Caprice, Professor William Rosenberg, iQur's founding Chief Scientific Officer and Professor of Hepatology at the University of Southampton, said: "This award is testament to the importance and success of our diagnostic services. iQur is the first Southampton-based company to be recognised at this level and we achieved this as a result of our expert team and their tremendous dedication to develop better care for the increasing threat of Hepatitis C across the globe. iQur's strategies enable therapies to be tailored to the individual patient - potentially reducing treatment time and side effects, saving the NHS millions of pounds in clinical and pharmaceutical expenses. Following this innovation will be our simple blood test to reduce the requirement of serial liver biopsy across Europe, then the introduction of better treatment for Hepatitis C."

Speaking on behalf of the University of Southampton, Dr Tony Raven, Director of its Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI) said, "Winning this very prestigious and hotly contested award is a fitting tribute to the work of Professor Rosenberg and his scientific team at iQur Limited." Earlier this year two other University of Southampton spin-out companies, SPI Lasers and OHM, were finalists in the Royal Academy of Engineering's prestigious MacRobert Award, which recognises the successful development of innovative ideas in engineering. "The recognition our spin-out companies are receiving from these awards reflects the real commercial significance of our research and technology," he added.

As well as recognition within the medical community, iQur has also attracted positive attention from the investment community, and has successfully raised further investment of £2.6 million in an oversubscribed funding round. The funding will be used to establish the company's Diagnostic Services business, the iQur(r) Speciality Pharmaceutical distribution division and grow various therapeutic in-licensing agreements.

Commenting on the investment and Award, David Norwood, Board Director and CEO of IP2IPO, a major investor in iQur, said: "UK universities are originators of some of the best novel intellectual property in the world, and the University of Southampton and the progress of the iQur team to deliver innovation to the global problem of liver disease, specifically, Hepatitis C, is an inspiration to all our portfolio companies, and fully reflective of our mission. iQur's progress is underlined by the success of this financing round."

In addition, iQur has also extended its focus and pipeline beyond Hepatitis C into liver fibrosis and secured a licensing deal with The University of Southampton. Liver fibrosis is the result of fatty liver disease, obesity, hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease and others. Over the last 20 years, the University has achieved an international reputation for its study of the pathology of fibrosis, cirrhosis, then cancer of the liver.

Commenting on these significant announcements, Paul Colford, CEO, said: "I am delighted that iQur's ground breaking research into the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of major liver diseases has been recognised on such a wide range of fronts, by the Department of Health, the investment community and the University, and underlines our company's goal to become THE liver disease company."

Notes for editors

  1. Digital images of William Rosenberg accepting the Medical Futures Department of Health Award from Caprice are available on request.
  2. iQur Ltd, previously HepCgen Ltd, founded by liver disease specialist Professor William Rosenberg, Professor of Hepatology at the University of Southampton and scientific advisor to the NHS National Screening committee and diagnostics and imaging panel, specialises in developing novel diagnostics and treatments for chronic liver disease. Its initial focus was on Hepatitis C detection and genotyping. The Company has developed a proprietary genetic test that rapidly determines the genetic subtype of Hepatitis C infection and thus enables treatment regimes to be tailored appropriately.
  3. The Company raised seed finance of £350,000 primarily from IP2IPO, a majority owned subsidiary of Evolution Group plc, the investment bank and fund management group, and has subsequently completed a £1.6m series A financing, attracting institutional and private investors, and now a £2.6 million financing from private equity investors. Visit www.iQur.com for more information.
  4. The Medical Futures Innovation Awards represent a national showcase of clinical, academic and commercial innovative excellence, and this year attracted more than 1200 entries. Forty teams from across the UK were short-listed for presentation to a panel of judges earlier in the autumn, and the finalists displayed their ideas at the Innovators' Gallery, Old Billingsgate in London on 3 November, before the announcement of the winners. Visit ww.medicalfutures.com for more information.
  5. The University of Southampton is one of the UK's top 10 research-led universities, with a global reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. With first-rate opportunities and facilities across a wide range of subjects in science and engineering, health, arts and humanities, the University has around 20,000 students and 5000 staff at its campuses in Southampton and Winchester. Its annual turnover is in the region of £274 million.
    Southampton is recognised internationally for its leading-edge research in engineering, science, computer science and medicine, and for its strong enterprise agenda. It is home to world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; the Optoelectronics Research Centre; the Textile Conservation Centre; the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

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