AS A CHAMBER MEMBER YOU'RE WELL CONNECTED
Alex Blyth, who lost his mother to pancreatic cancer, has successfully raised more than £250,000 through a leading crowdfunding platform to develop a pioneering cancer treatment that shares people’s innate immunity to cancer to help potentially cure cancer patients.
As chief executive of LIfT BioSciences, Alex raised the capital through Brighton-based, Shadow Foundr to help fund the world’s first cell bank of cancer-killing white blood cells known as neutrophils.
Alex was put in touch with Shadow Foundr through Brighton’s Barclays Eagle Lab manager Brian Sharkey after he was very impressed with the work he saw LIfT doing. Alex commented “Does your bank do this? I think Barclays have taken business banking to a whole new level in how much they have done and continue to do for us”.
During his quest for a breakthrough therapy, Alex discovered the work of tumour expert Zheng Cui and looked for a way to translate results in the lab into a new medicine which would offer hope to cancer patients.
Mr Blyth said: “My mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2013 and I knew that there was very little hope.
“I was then looking for a potential therapy that hadn’t been tried before and I came across work that Professor Cui had done.
“It was real breakthrough work on solid tumours that had never been seen before but was still a long way from the clinic.
“Sadly, my mother passed away and I then set up the company LIfT BioSciences to find a curative therapy for pancreatic cancer – and other cancers which are currently considered untreatable. I left my job and used my savings for, what normal people might use to buy a house, on doing this”.
The first part of the LIfT BioSciences name derives from the description of the treatment – Leukocyte Infusion Therapy (LIfT).
Mr Blyth said: “We have all started to think of cancer as being incurable and yet every day most of us are successfully killing mutating cells in our body that could otherwise develop into cancers.
“LIfT is about taking the high innate immunity one person has and giving that to a patient. We are doing things differently.”
“LIfT in its original form – devised by Dr Cui who, for me, is like the Alexander Fleming of cancer who accidentally discovered a cancer resistant ‘super mouse’ – was simply taking innate white blood cells from people who had high innate cancer-killing cells and putting them into patients who didn’t.
“While brilliant in its simplicity, it wasn’t very scalable and required too many rare donors which created a logistical issue and commercial challenge.
“I did originally take this to the NHS and Cancer Research UK but they felt it was too early stage and did not want to get involved in a medical procedure based therapy. Everyone wants a tried and tested product that is patented. So that is what we are doing, we have taken what was essentially a medical procedure and turned it into a scalable patented product that continues to now gain the backing it needs to work towards getting this very promising therapy to patients in the next few years”.
“One of our recent breakthroughs that links to one of our pending patents was developing a way to produce these cancer killing neutrophils in volume in a lab environment, outside the body, so that we didn’t need to have lots of rare donors on call”.
“I’m pleased to say that we’ve now successfully demonstrated that this approach works, so we have produced the first neutrophils outside of the body that kill cancer cells. The breakthrough gives us the basic building blocks for a whole new type of innate cell therapy for solid tumours.”
LIfT BioSciences surpassed its £250,000 fundraising target with Shadow Foundr, attracting over a hundred investors within just days of going public with the breakthrough development.
“We will use this money to iron out some research challenges and start building the world’s first cell bank of cancer killing neutrophils for potentially curing a range of cancers. Sadly, we are not yet ready for treating patients, but we will put out a public announcement when we are. People are welcome to subscribe to our newsletter on www.LIfTBioSciences.com to stay informed.”
Shadow Foundr’s chief operating officer, Jason Kluver, said he was delighted that two Brighton-based companies had combined to assist with what potentially could be a life-saving world-first.
“Alex’s story would resonate with most people and when we first met, we were particularly impressed with his commitment to this cause.”
“Aside from that, his company has the potential to be highly scalable and disruptive, which is what we look for in any business we raise funds for. The value of the markets that LIfT is hoping to be active in, ranges from hundreds of millions to billions of pounds.”
“Hopefully the funds raised through our platform will help him to kick on and make a real difference to many people in future, and if that happens, our investors will also be happy.”
“It’s great to see the power of crowdfunding at work for worthwhile enterprises and causes.”
For more information about Shadow Foundr or to view other campaigns requiring investment go to www.shadowfoundr.com