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University launches new biotech spin-out company

The University of Liverpool has launched a new biotech spin-out company to develop novel therapeutic drugs for the treatment of cancer and fibrotic diseases.

The spin-out, named Galytx, will focus specifically on developing small molecular therapeutic drugs against a highly clinical relevant molecular target called galectin-3.

Galectin-3 is a carbohydrate-binding protein that has recently drawn increased attention in drug development due to its close association with the pathogenesis, progression and morbidity of several fatal diseases including cancer, fibrosis and inflammation.

A number of pharmaceutical and biotech companies are currently working toward the development of galectin-3 targeted therapies in these disease areas and several carbohydrate-based inhibitors are under early phase clinical trials.

Research at the University of Liverpool, led by Professor Lu-Gang Yu, has recently identified, for the first time, several non-carbohydrate, wholly synthetic small molecular compounds as potent galectin-3 inhibitors which have shown huge potential to be developed as galectin-3 targeted novel therapeutic drugs for treatment of these fatal diseases.

The University launches Galytx to accelerate the therapeutic development of those promising compound inhibitors, which include repurposed drugs, to address the significant unmet clinical need in these disease areas. The unique portfolio of assets possessed by Galytx include both clinical and pre-clinical compounds. The lead clinical asset of the company is a repurposed drug that has a strong and well-established safety record in chronic oral use, so allows a fast-track clinical development pathway. Its pre-clinical assets have the potential to be developed as injectable therapeutics for acute use. Such a unique combination of assets will put Galytx at the forefront of the development galectin-3-targeted therapeutics. It will also enable Galytx to provide effective therapies for the broadest range of galectin-3 mediated diseases.

Professor Lu-Gang Yu, Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology said:

“Galectin-3 is increasingly recognized as a multi-functional, multi-mode promoter in cancer as well as in fibrosis-associated organ failures such as hearts, lungs and kidneys. The discovery of these novel galectin-3 inhibitors provides an opportunity of developing a new class of drugs to treat these fatal diseases which, together, underpin the majority of disease-associated human fatalities. We are looking forward to the opportunity Galytx provides to translate many years’ research work in the lab into possible patient benefit.”

Professor Lu-Gang Yu is joined by Dr Karen Sullivan, CEO, who has more than 20 years’ experience of leadership in technology commercialisation.

Dr Sullivan added:

“Galytx is uniquely positioned to deliver the wide range of clinical benefits that we believe are possible by targeting galectin-3 in these disease areas that affect all of us. Having previously approved drugs as part of our asset portfolio means that we will be able to deliver these benefits faster and with far less risk than our competitors.”

The Galytx team also includes Helen Delahaye, an industry-experienced Operations Director and Dr David Cook as a specialist advisor, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry in both big pharma and biotech where he has gained broad experience of drug discovery and development, working on projects from target identification through to supporting marketed drugs.

Galytx has received investment from the University of Liverpool’s Enterprise Investment Fund to provide start-up capital. The company is currently working on a seed investment round to fund further development of its clinical and pre-clinical assets.

You can find out more about Galytx at or get in touch with the team here.