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12 September 2004
Sunday Herald
Integrin in £1/2m fund deal to ‘grow’ marine drug leads

PIONEERING marine bio- discovery company Integrin has secured a funding package from backers, including Aberdeen Asset Management’s (AAM) private equity division, which will enable the Oban-based company to implement an aggressive growth plan in an area of increasing interest to the global pharmaceutical industry.

Integrin said its progress in a global search for novel marine drug leads to help fill gaps in new drug development, has attracted significant interest and an announcement about first sales to one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies is imminent.

Integrin has raised in excess of £450,000 in second-round funding including a mix of grants and equity from HIE Ventures, a fund managed by AAM’s private equity division, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise and private individuals associated with Integrin.

The company, whose non-executive directors include Walter Nimmo, chief executive of Nasdaq-listed drugs firm Inveresk Research, is also involved in safety testing for seafood for a range of clients including Sainsbury’s and Loch Fyne Oyster Bar.

It has entered into a new partnership agreement with Sun Microsystems, which plans to set up a new £5 million radio frequency identification testing laboratory at Linlithgow, whereby the two companies will collaborate on developing a web-based system which traces food from origin to destination.

Integrin managing director Dr Douglas McKenzie said: “This funding is a vital springboard to our much larger ambitions to be the global leader in the delivery of marine biotech products and services.”

Compounds derived from marine bacteria and invertebrates such as sponges, have already been successfully used to create new drugs for problems such as post-operative pain.

McKenzie’s team plans to licence-in promising compounds from academic institutions across the globe and to act as a “shop window” for pharmaceutical companies searching for novel compounds.

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