Inaphaea BioLabs 2023: A year in review

2023 saw the launch of Inaphaea and we’re delighted to report that the company is continuing to go from strength to strength.

With a strong and dedicated scientific and commercial team, and several strategic partnerships announced, our translational Contract Research Organisation (tCRO™) is now fully operational, offering cell-based assays specialising in oncology and women’s health.

This year has been a whirlwind of activity, and alongside our busy calendar of industry events, we’ve been working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure Inaphaea’s success.

Here, we take a look at our year in review:

Joining MediCity Nottingham

We kicked off 2023 by announcing we had taken out a lease on laboratory and office facilities at MediCity Nottingham as part of our strategy to launch a tCRO™

The new facilities include 910 sq ft of laboratory space, accommodating up to eight lab-based staff members.

Historically, ValiRx had operated as a virtual biotech company, outsourcing all testing of evaluation and preclinical projects to external contract research organisations (CROs).

The new laboratory infrastructure allows ValiRx to conduct initial testing in-house, with the aim of creating a more efficient and effective translational drug development service for both internal and third-party use.

Appointing our Chief Scientific Officer

At the beginning of the year, ValiRx and Inaphaea also announced the permanent appointment of Dr Cathy Tralau-Stewart as Chief Scientific Officer.

Cathy supports us strategically through membership of the executive team and as a Board observer.

Bolstering Inaphaea

In March, we announced three senior appointments to Inaphaea, including Dr Andrew Carnegie as Head of Strategic Commercial Development, Melissa Barr as Lead Scientist, and Dr Dominic Lowen as Senior Scientist, with Amelia Hatfield joining shortly afterwards, in April.

These appointments were central to the continued growth and development of Inaphaea as we worked to build a first-class scientific and commercial team and become fully operational.

Partnership with Physiomics

ValiRx and Inaphaea announced a collaborative services agreement between Physiomics Plc and Inaphaea in April. Based in Oxford, Physiomics is a leading oncology consultancy that uses mathematical models to support the development of cancer treatment regimens and personalised medicine solutions.

The agreement recognises the synergy between Inaphaea’s ambition to create a tCRO™ and Physiomics’ capabilities across advanced statistical analyses, machine learning techniques, data handling and visualisation, as well as biological modelling.

Acquiring Imagen’s scientific assets

In June of this year, ValiRx announced the acquisition of the scientific assets of Imagen Therapeutics Limited from its appointed liquidators.

The company had collected samples from patients over a number of years across a wide variety of cancers and was able to build a unique ‘biobank’ of human derived cells and provide services to the global pharmaceutical industry for preclinical screening of drug candidates. 

The asset acquisition saw Imagen’s biobank and relevant equipment transferred and integrated into Inaphaea over the course of a few months.

In addition, ValiRx secured the consultancy services of co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Imagen, Dr Gareth Griffiths, to assist with the establishment of the patient-derived cell line services in the Inaphaea laboratories.

Agreement with OncoBone

Also in June, Inaphaea BioLabs entered into an agreement with virtual CRO services company, OncoBone Limited, to allow the use by clients of OncoBone services provided by Inaphaea BioLabs.

OncoBone offers a service to virtual biotech and other biopharma clients whereby OncoBone designs and commissions pre-clinical work on behalf of the client. To conduct the laboratory work, OncoBone engages with a range of pre-clinical CROs to execute the experimental designs that OncoBone has developed. Inaphaea is now confirmed as an OncoBone supplier of cell-based assays.

First external contract win for Inaphaea

In the summer, Inaphaea signed a Master Services Agreement and Project Statement of Work with a UK-based biotech company. The defined work programme involved a multi-stage project investigating possible anti-cancer properties of a range of novel molecules using a phenotypic assay and will benefitted from the use of patient-derived cells from Inaphaea’s biobank.

Inaphaea and Agility team up

Inaphaea entered into a collaborative services agreement with Agility Life Sciences in August to provide a single point of contact for customers to formulate and test their drug candidates.

The agreement recognises the synergy between Inaphaea’s growing capabilities as a tCRO® and Agility Life Sciences’ expertise in pre-formulation and formulation development, as an award-winning Contract Development and Manufacturing Organisation (CDMO).

Under the agreement, service users of Inaphaea will be able to benefit from Agility’s capabilities in a single service contract with Inaphaea and similarly, service users of Agility will be able to access Inaphaea’s capabilities through its service contract with Agility.

We were also pleased to team up with Inspiralis on enzyme assay services and Ignota Labs on AI toxicity prediction services.

Inaphaea launch event

On 26 September, we hosted an official launch event for Inaphaea BioLabs at MediCity Nottingham, supported by BioNow. 

Guests enjoyed a tour of our laboratory and an exclusive look at our brand-new set up, which was closely followed by keynote speeches from our team and company showcases from HistologiX’s Head of Client Management Dr Peter De’Ath, Inspiralis Ltd’s Managing Director Natassja Bush, Venomtech Ltd’s Founder & CSO Steve Trim, and Agility Life Sciences’ Founder and CEO Professor Claire Thompson.

Once again, we’d like to thank all those who attended Inaphaea’s launch and give special thanks to the keynote speakers, company showcase speakers, and BioNow for helping us make this event a great success.

Student placements at Inaphaea

In September, Inaphaea BioLabs welcomed two students from the University of Nottingham to undertake a two-week placement in the lab.

The students, Daniel Abegunde and Jozaine Fenton received a hands-on placement experience working within Inaphaea’s new lab. Both students were eager to learn about all aspects of working in the lab and were able to build on skills acquired during their degrees as they shadowed the Inaphaea scientists.

Looking to the future

We are really looking forward to what the next year holds as we continue to expand Inaphaea and progress an innovative portfolio of projects to address the important areas of oncology and the unmet need for treatments in the women’s health space.

To discuss any of our updates, please contact Dr Andrew Carnegie, Head of Strategic Commercial Development at Inaphaea, who will be happy to help.

Wishing you a wonderful festive season and a happy new year!