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Northern Gritstone backs motor neurone therapy group Crucible

One of Britain’s most prominent university spinout ventures is backing a developer of therapies for neurological diseases as part of a capital-raising to fund it through to clinical trials.

Sky News understands that Crucible Therapeutics, which was founded by University of Sheffield academics at its Department of Neuroscience, will announce this week that it has secured £5m of funding from Northern Gritstone and Argobio Studio, a Paris-based investor.

Crucible is a biotech company developing treatments for the most common forms of motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

It was established this year, and is the latest early-stage company to receive financial backing from Northern Gritstone, which was the brainchild of Lord O’Neill, the former Treasury minister and chief economist at Goldman Sachs.

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, co-founder of Crucible and professor of neurology at the University of Sheffield, said: “Our novel therapeutic approach has made significant strides in our pursuit of transforming how these devastating diseases are treated and with the potential to achieve meaningful therapeutic impact.

“Today marks an important milestone, which brings us closer to supplying transformative treatments to people with neurological diseases like ALS [also known as motor neuron disease] and FTD.

“The significant experience and support that Northern Gritstone and Argobio Studio bring to Crucible further enables our pre-clinical development, and in parallel, allows us to strategically build our…team.”

Duncan Johnson, CEO of Northern Gritstone, said: “Crucible’s founders…exemplify the world-leading scientific and medical expertise that exists in the north of England.

“We are delighted to be backing Crucible and we look forward to working with them as they prepare to bring the company’s therapeutic candidate closer to clinical trials.”

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Northern Gritstone, which is fast-becoming one of the UK’s most prolific investors into academic spin-outs and intellectual property-rich businesses, was founded by the universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield.

It has raised hundreds of millions of pounds from backers including M&G Investments, Lansdowne Partners and Andrew Law, the CEO of hedge fund Caxton Associates, who has invested in a personal capacity.

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The vehicle is focused on spinouts in sectors such as advanced materials, energy, health technology and cognitive computation.

Combined, the universities boast a talent pool of more than 8,400 dedicated researchers and 33,000 postgraduate students.

They generate an annual income of over £2.6bn, and have been home to 38 Nobel Prize winners.

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