Cambridge Institute for Medical Research


March 2014

Startup of the Year award for XO1 Ltd

The spin-out company XO1, which Jim Huntington at CIMR is Founder and Director of, has won the Business Weekly Startup of the Year Award. This was presented on Tuesday March 18th by Peter Cowley of Martlet at the Business Weekly gala dinner in Cambridge. He commented: “XO1 A new company has been formed with $11 million startup capital to commercialise a “one in a billion” Cambridge UK medical breakthrough that is being compared to Fleming’s discovery of penicillin 85 years ago. Based on a freak discovery at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, XO1 is developing a novel anticoagulant that has the potential to prevent heart attack and stroke without causing bleeding.”

XO1 Ltd was founded last year with $11 million investment from the life sciences investor Index Ventures to develop a new anticoagulant drug, ichorcumab. This synthetic antibody against thrombin has the potential to save millions of lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes without causing bleeding. Its development arose from a collaboration between Jim Huntington at CIMR and Trevor Baglin at Addenbrooke’s hospital, after treating a patient with a head injury who had a naturally occurring form of this antibody. Ichorcumab is set apart from existing anticoagulants in that it promotes anticoagulation without increasing bleeding risk, and thus it has been hailed the ‘holy grail’ of anticoagulant drugs.

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November 2013

Sir Jules Thorn Award for Biomedical Research

Dr Frank Waldron-Lynch and the team at the JDRF/Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory have been awarded just over a million pounds by the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trustto enable them to conduct a clinical trial to develop a new treatment for type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the most common severe chronic autoimmune disease worldwide and the incidence of the disease is rising rapidly. Dr Waldron-Lynch’s translational research focuses on the role of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a molecule that helps cells known as regulatory T cells (Treg) suppress the destruction of the body’s insulin-producing beta cells. The objective of this trial is to establish the optimum frequency of IL-2 administration to maintain an increased Treg function in T1D. Dr Waldron-Lynch adds: “We also hope to discover in this mechanistic trial the immunophenotypic, genetic and epigenetic effects of ultra-low dose IL-2 administration, as well as identifying potential biomarkers for future clinical trials.”

This trial forms the second stage of a clinical development programme for ultra-low dose IL-2 for the treatment of T1D, and the first study is now open at Addenbrooke’s. Further details are available at

The Sir Jules Thorn Award for Biomedical Research is a single grant offered annually to support translational biomedical research, and is awarded via a competition among applicants sponsored by the leading UK medical schools and NHS organisations. To learn more, visit their website

Distinguished Innovator award for Professor Ken Smith

Professor Ken Smith, Department of Medicine, has received the Distinguished Innovator Award from the Lupus Research Institute. The award is now the world’s largest private grant in novel lupus research and supports large-scale studies for up to $1 million that can advance the search for a cure by uncovering fundamental causes of lupus.

Professor Smith’s group has discovered that lupus patients who develop more severe disease have a distinctive pattern of genes turned on in their white blood cells at diagnosis. He and his group will investigate whether this gene pattern can be used as a practical test to predict long-term lupus prognosis. Such a predictive test would allow for safer and more effective personalized treatment. They will also explore what causes this gene pattern, in the search for new treatment strategies.

June 2013

January 2013

  • A study by the LeishGEN Consortium led by Professor Jenefer Blackwell involving 6,000 people living in areas of India and Brazil endemic for the potentially fatal parasitic disease known as visceral leishmaniasis has identified variation in a specific region of the major immune response locus, known to immunologists as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), as the single most important genetic risk factor for disease. The results are published online in the journal ‘Nature Genetics’ (

  • Large-scale study uncovers a single major genetic risk factor for visceral leishmaniasis.

    Scientists from India, Brazil, UK, Australia and USA worked together as the LeishGEN Consortium to undertake the study jointly with the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium.

    For the teams in Australia, UK and USA, the results are being used in a targeted way in vaccine research to study the way the immune system interacts with the disease in mice. Professor Jenefer Blackwell, who led the LeishGEN Consortium first from the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research at the University of Cambridge and now from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research as a Winthrop Professor of the University of Western Australia, says: “Earlier genetic studies of visceral leishmaniasis in inbred mice allowed us to clearly demonstrate the importance of the MHC in regulating this disease. Now, major advances in human genetics, and the ability to compare the genomes of large numbers of people with and without the disease, have allowed us to identify the precise molecular basis to this MHC control in humans. This will have a major impact on refining research towards the ultimate goal of a vaccine.”

    The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health.

December 2012

  • CIMR are awarded a major Strategic Award from the Wellcome Trust funding state-of-the-art core facilities

September 2012

May 2012

April 2012

April 2012

  • Autophagy: when ‘self-eating’ is good for you.
    "New discoveries by Cambridge scientists about a molecular waste-disposal process that ‘eats’ bacteria are influencing the clinical management of cystic fibrosis, and could be the basis of innovative new treatments to fight off bacteria." Further details on the University of Cambridge website.

February 2012

October 2011

July 2011