Professor Jim Huntington shares his commercial journey with University of Cambridge researchers

by Robert Ince

We’re going on the road! To help mark Cambridge Enterprise’s 10th anniversary, we’re staging a series of departmental “roadshows” showcasing some of the pioneering research that has come out of the University and its journey to commercial success. It is also a great opportunity to share with the wider University the services that Cambridge Enterprise has to offer.

Our first roadshow event, on 8 June, took us to the Department of Haematology at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Professor Jim Huntington—founder of multiple biotech companies, including X01, ApcinteX, Z Factor and SuperX—gave a talk, entitled ‘X01 & beyond—fortune favours the prepared mind’.

X01 Ltd, which spun-out of the University in 2013, is developing a new anticoagulant drug, ichorcumab, which has the potential to save millions of lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes without causing bleeding. The company was acquired in March 2015 by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The sale represents a key step in the progress toward the drug being used in patients.

During the talk, Jim discussed his research with Trevor Baglin to outwit blood clots, Trevor’s chance encounter with a patient in A&E while he was acting as a Consultant Haematologist at Cambridge University Hospitals and an invaluable relationship with Dr Andy Walsh, a technology manager at Cambridge Enterprise. Andy joined Cambridge Enterprise in 2002 and has helped to set up six spin-out companies (Definigen, X01, Phoremost, Apcintex, Morphogen-IX and Gyroscope) since 2012, and was a member of the board for X01.

We received a lot of positive feedback about Jim’s talk and the opportunity for networking between postdocs and academics proved invaluable. We were pleased to receive several responses akin to this one, from a postdoc.

Great talk—good to see a concrete example of how many different aspects can come together, whether planned or in hindsight: the science + combinations of people + seeking other expertise (and where from) + persevering with your interests and so on.

A postdoc researcher

Does fortune favour the prepared mind? Huntington made a convincing case as he was able to identify and capitalise upon a patient’s interesting abnormality: a resistance to clotting due to the presence of an inhibitory antibody. The story of the drug’s development started with this chance clinical observation, and today demonstrates how a team of clinicians and scientists, working closely with Cambridge Enterprise, were able to develop early stage ideas and technology that, in this case, was successfully taken up by a major pharmaceutical company.

Stay tuned for updates on our next roadshow event.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,