InfiCure Bio’s objective is to stop fibrosis, an illness that causes 40 percent of all deaths in the western world. To help them, they have the unique N-IF mouse.
It was during a diabetes study that Professor Dan Holmberg and PhD Sofia Mayans, then a PhD student, created a new kind of mouse by accident. It appeared quite healthy, but quickly developed inflammation and scar tissue in various organs – also known as fibrosis. In spite of this, the mouse was still doing well.
The plan that didn’t work worked, but differently
Fibrosis normally appears during chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cystic fibrosis. This results in an enormous number of deaths as there is no effective medication that can stop or slow down fibrosis. A fundamental problem is that there are no good laboratory methods or animal models for testing new medica¬tion before clinical studies are carried out on humans. Until now.
As the discovery of the mouse was not serving any purpose for the diabetes study, it was put to one side until the researchers realized what an enormous potential and unique opportunity it meant for fibrosis research. They contacted the innovation system and Umeå Biotech Incubator, and in 2015 InfiCure Bio was set up, where Sofia Mayans is CEO and Dan Holmberg is CSO.
– The unique thing about us is that we have the N-IF mouse, whose spontaneous development of inflammation and fibrosis is similar to human conditions. We are the only people in the entire world with access to the mouse and the chances of anyone developing the same animal are minimal, as the integration of the transgene is not known, says Sofia Mayans.
InfiCure Bio carries out effects testing for pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies, and researchers and developers of medication for fibrosis.
The world-unique opportunities that the Umeå company possesses has attracted great interest from pharmaceutical companies, and a pharmaceutical company in Boston, and one in San Diego, USA are among InfiCure Bio’s first clients.
– It is our aim to become world leaders in the clinical testing of potential new medicines for fibrosis, says Sofia Mayans.
Three short questions to Sofia Mayans on SME instrument
- Was it difficult to apply to and get money from SME instrument? I thought it was relatively easy to apply for SME instrument phase I. We had engaged a consultant (GAEU) who wrote our proposal and handled all matters regarding the EU-portal. I believe that if I had had to do manage the EU-portal, then that would have been the trickiest part of the application.
- What has been most useful so far? The money has of course been very useful, but the time spent with the consultants payed by EU was also very valuable.
- In the future, what do you think will prove to be the most valuable aspect of SME instrument? If we get SME phase II that would, in addition to resulting in a great financial leap, also give our company a stamp of recognition as being a good and creditable company. As others read our application our company is assessed and evaluated once more, and if we get the grant it proves that we are venture worthy.