UK-based ImmuOne, a biotech company that has developed a 3D human lung model to replace animal testing, announced that it has raised €2.2M in funding from MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund, EIS funds, and Pioneer Group.
ImmuONE enables companies developing new products such as drugs, chemicals, or cosmetics to meet legal requirements by showing they are safe to be inhaled.
The company says the investment will allow it to move into new headquarters in Milton Keynes and new laboratories in Stevenage to expand its capacity, continue its research and development, and grow its team.
“Having worked on drug development projects that involve animal testing, I’ve seen the difference that new drugs can make to patients’ lives. However, I felt there had to be a better way and set out to look for an alternative,” says ImmuOne CEO and co-founder Dr Abigail Martin.
“Our model not only enables companies to move away from animal testing but also improves safety for patients too. We look forward to working with many more clients and scaling the business with a view to global expansion in the future,” Martin adds.
Newer technology to improve drug discovery
ImmuONE’s model involves growing human lower lung tissue and immune cells in a laboratory to create a 3D model. This allows companies to test the impact of their products on the small airways and inflammation in the lungs, providing more accurate and relevant results.
The company is also using newer assessment techniques, such as cell painting, to understand lung immune responses. This will enable their customers to make better-informed decisions earlier in the product development.
ImmuONE was founded in 2019 by Martin and Professor Victoria Hutter. The latter was Martin’s supervisor during her PhD research at the University of Hertfordshire.
The company has around 20 customers globally, including blue-chip chemical and consumer products companies. Since its launch, the company has generated over €1.1M in revenue.
“Around 90 per cent of drugs shown to be safe and effective in animals do not work as planned in humans, which is one reason for the high failure rate in drug discovery,” says Hannah Tapsell of Mercia.
“With growing demand for more effective testing models and pressure from consumers to replace animal testing, ImmuONE fills a clear gap in the market. Abigail and Victoria have not only created a powerful innovation but also achieved remarkable success in building a fast-growing business,” adds Tapsell.
About the investors
Mercia Ventures manages the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund and is part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF). MEIF is a government-funded initiative between the British Business Bank and ten Local Enterprise Partnerships that provides financial assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Midlands region of England.
MEIF offers three different funding options up to €2.2M equity investments. Investment is open to various sectors, including early-stage innovative businesses, manufacturing, as well as creative and digital industries.
“The Midlands Engine Investment Fund is known for investing in innovative SMEs across the Midlands region. This new MEIF investment in ImmuONE is a perfect example showcasing its commitment to supporting small businesses making strides in their respective sectors,” says Mark Wilcockson, senior investment manager at British Business Bank.
“This funding will allow ImmuONE to continue to change the way drug testing is practised, drive change, expand the business and create new jobs,” adds Wilcockson.
Dr Imelda Juniarsih, investment associate director at Pioneer Group, says, “We are proud to have invested in ImmuONE, a groundbreaking company which by replacing animal testing with a new model, it has the potential to revolutionise the field of drug development and meet new business demands.”