31/03/2009

£250k co-investment secures drug therapy development in Wales

An early stage company developing a novel approach to drug delivery to help patients suffering from a range of hormone conditions has secured more than £250,000 co-investment from Finance Wales plc, Fusion IP plc and the Viking Fund.


Diurnal Ltd received the investment and an additional £200,000 grant from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to develop an endocrine (hormone) multi-platform treatment that will benefit a range of chronic illnesses. Diurnal’s endocrine therapies have the potential to help patients with deficiencies in steroid hormones, testosterone, thyroid hormones and associated conditions. These can include regulating metabolism, growth development and puberty, tissue function and in determining mood.

Each of these deficiencies requires life-long treatment that Diurnals novel approach to drug delivery would make easier for the body to accept by mimicking its natural hormone levels.

Finance Wales plc is investing £150,000 equity alongside £50,000 each from the Viking Fund and university investment group, Fusion IP plc, of which Diurnal Ltd is a subsidiary. Diurnal was originally spun out from the University of Sheffield but will be headquartered at offices in Cardiff and will work closely with Tredegar-based Penn Pharmaceuticals to develop its new formulation approach.

Martin Whitaker, General Manager at Diurnal Ltd, said the funding was paramount. “The investment will allow us to develop our drug development programmes to the next level and closer to final testing, licensing and commercialisation. The impact will be considerable to people who suffer from reduced cortisol and testosterone levels and by working with the body’s natural rhythm it could drastically improve their lives.”

Jocelyn Brown, an Associate at Finance Wales plc, which provides commercial funding to businesses in Wales, said: “Diurnal Ltd is an innovative early stage pharmaceutical company that has yielded novel product opportunities through innovative research activities to commercialisation. The company’s rich pipeline of product opportunities has significant market potential. Our investment, together with that of the co-investors, will support the company’s growth and development at a critical time within its life-cycle."

David Baynes, CEO of Fusion IP, added: “This fundraising is a great endorsement to Diurnal’s exciting science and Fusion IP is pleased to continue its support of the company through participation in this financing round.”

Diurnal Ltd is one of Fusion IP’s first spin out companies from the University of Sheffield. Fusion IP owns the rights to 100 per cent of the university-owned research generated at the Sheffield University and Cardiff University.

Another co-investor, the Viking Fund, provides co-investment venture capital fund, specialising in providing finance for early-stage technology companies. Commenting on its investment in Diurnal Ltd, Andrew Burton, Managing Director of Viking said: “Diurnal has identified a strong need to improve the efficiency and delivery of hormones to patients. This is a good proposition and an excellent addition to Viking’s portfolio of investments”