Queen’s spin-out VascVersa secures £500,000 to shake up cell therapy

8 Aug 2022

Timothy Allsopp, Stuart Gaffikin, Reinhold Medina, Aidan Courtney, Stuart McKeown, Alan Stitt, Christina O'Neill and David Moore. Image: Andrew Towe

The Belfast-based start-up is developing a vascular regeneration treatment for people with conditions such as diabetic foot ulcers.

VascVersa, a medtech spin-out from Queen’s University Belfast, has secured more than £500,000 in fresh funding.

This will be used to accelerate the development of a novel cell therapy to promote the creation of new blood vessels.

The investment round was backed by Co-Fund NI, the Innovation Investment Fund, angel investors from the Halo Business Angel Network and QUBIS – the commercialisation arm of Queen’s University.

It comes following a “six-figure” funding round last year and a recent Innovate UK Biomedical Catalyst grant for an £800,000 project.

VascVersa is developing Angicyte, a cell therapy treatment for vascular regeneration and repair.

It is looking to help patients with vascular diseases and chronic wounds by using vasoreparative cells derived from umbilical cord blood. The aim is to promote healing by making new blood vessels, leading to improved blood supply.

The Belfast-based company’s first target is chronic non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, but it plans to investigate if its therapy could also be used for treating other vascular conditions.

Christina O’Neill, CEO of VascVersa, described the fresh investment as a “significant milestone” for the emerging medtech company.

“It will enable us to accelerate development of our first product for diabetic foot ulcers and also develop our technology for other vascular diseases.”

Aidan Courtney, chair of the start-up, added that the investment will also help expand its research facilities and develop new products based on its “groundbreaking technology”.

VascVersa is currently coordinating research taking place in Belfast, London and Edinburgh. It is working on an Innovate UK-funded project with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service and Queen’s University Belfast to develop the Angicyte therapy.

The start-up recently spun out of Queen’s but builds on more than 20 years of research at the university.

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Sarah Harford is sub-editor of Silicon Republic