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OxStem:  A new record-                            Anatomy and Genetics. The activity of an impressive array of
              breaking company to design cell                   collaborators across 5 University departments is coordinated
                                                                day-to-day by Oxford chemistry alumnus Dr Amy Varney, under
              reprogramming therapies for                       the direction of experienced entrepreneurs Dr Michael Stein
              age-related diseases                              (CEO) and Raymond Spencer (CFO). In addition, the team is
                                                                supported by a stellar scientific advisory board, including world-
              Earlier this year the chemistry                   renowned biologist and geneticist Dr J. Craig Venter responsible
              department saw one of its most                    for sequencing most of the human genome.
              ambitious spin-outs to date come                  OxStem’s unique structure is something of a first for the
              to fruition. In fact, it wasn’t just a            University. As a ‘spin out’, OxStem is already spawning daughter
              record for the chemistry department               companies (or “stems”) with specific disease focuses, that are
              so much as for the UK; according to               nested within the university. In addition to the chemistry co-
              Oxford University Innovation, the                 founders, every stem has its own set of specialised academic co-
              newly spawned ‘OxStem Ltd’ was                    founders and collaborators within the university, encompassing
              the largest fundraise on record for               some 80 people in total. The first four stems are: Oncology
              a spin out of a UK university (May                (co-founded by Prof Sten Eirik Jacobsen, Prof Paresh Vyas, Prof
              2016) raising an impressive £16.9m for regenerative medicine   Petter Woll, Prof Thomas Milne and Prof Tariq Enver of UCL),
                                                                Neuro (co-founded by Prof Francis Szele, Dr Graham Wynne
              What is OxStem doing and why? We are a regenerative   and Dr Julie Davies), Ocular (co-founded by Prof Robert
              medicine drug discovery company. Our vision is to work   MacLaren) and Cardio (co-founded by Prof Paul Riley and Prof
              with energy and drive to change lives for the better; by   Roger Patient). Once these are operational, we plan to spin-out
              discovering new drugs to treat age–related diseases such   further stems. With such a broad scientific talent base, we’re
              as neurodegenerative disease, cardiac disease and macular   hoping to achieve some amazing things and are thrilled to be
              degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in the   doing so in the very special place that is Oxford.
              Western World.  We also have a new game changing approach to
              combating cancer.

              OxStem has a unique approach: we design small molecules
              to modify stem and progenitor cells in vivo. This contrasts
              with most stem cell therapies, which are based on a whole cell
              approach – isolation, growth and re-injection of cells into
              patients. The problem with this is that there are often tolerance
              issues, and the practice is expensive and requires specialist
              hospital equipment for treating patients.
              Who are OxStem? We are a team of talented scientists,
              clinicians and entrepreneurs who are full of optimism that
              we will have a huge positive impact on society. The OxStem
              approach builds on the medicinal chemistry expertise within
              Prof Steve Davies and Prof Angela Russell’s groups here in the
              CRL, where all of the chemistry research for OxStem currently   L-R: OxStem Ltd Co-founders Prof Steve Davies (Chemistry), Prof
              takes place. Biology and genetics expertise is aptly provided   Dame Kay Davies (DPAG), Prof Angela Russell (Chemistry and
              by Prof Dame Kay Davies in the Department of Physiology,   Pharmacology) and OxStem Project Coordinator Dr Amy Varney.

                                                            The Magazine of the Department of Chemistry
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