Researchers wanted: Tucana Health expands in Cork

15 Feb 2016

UCC-based Tucana Health is building “a new research team in Cork” after being acquired by British biotherapeutics maker 4D Pharma.

Investigating the minutiae of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Tucana’s expansion will initially see “key research staff” hired to specialise in diagnosis and patient stratification.

A spinout from the APC Microbiome Institute in UCC, Tucana was founded by Professors Fergus Shanahan and Paul O’Toole, who will head the new research push at the company.

A bit of context on the company that has acquired Tucana Health, 4D Pharma is a pharmaceutical company focusing on the development of live biotherapeutics, a novel and emerging class of drugs.

According to a report in European Biotechnology News, 4D Pharma is paying €4m upfront for the start-up, with additional payments depending on milestones.

Following the initial push on stratification, Tucana will mirror MicroRx, a proprietary platform of 4D Pharma for the discovery of novel, live biotherapeutics. This will see the Cork business focus on building a diagnostic platform across multiple disease areas.

As the APC Microbiome Institute is funded by Science Foundation Ireland, Shanahan – who is also the institute’s director – hailed this latest deal as an “outstanding example” of how focused, sustained investment in research can result in significant returns.

“We are keen to expand our research team with motivated scientists, and we are currently recruiting ambitious researchers with molecular biology and bioinformatics skills who would like to be part of this exciting new venture,” said O’Toole.

APC already collaborates with 4D Pharma on a €4.8m four-year project that focuses on the discovery and development of live biotherapeutics for autism spectrum disorder and associated CNS disorders.

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Microbiology image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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