UK Biotech

UK alarm bells are ringing as a biotech cuts a few trial sites, fretting over Brexit’s impact on drug development

A very low-profile transatlantic biotech has found a place in the spotlight for the first time with its decision to cut UK trial sites out of an upcoming heart drug study — evidently due to uncertainty about drug development in a post-Brexit world.

The BBC reported the move by a company called Recardio — with offices in Austria and San Francisco — which will likely stoke new fears that the UK’s impending departure from the EU will severely disrupt the country’s biopharma industry. So far, that’s been playing out with warnings over a possible interruption in drug supplies unless the UK can hammer out an exit deal that muffles any fallout.

Little Recardio is now playing a big role in this European drama.

The biotech has been lining up trial sites in the EU and US for a study involving a drug called dutogliptin, a DPP4 blocker. You rarely see any biotechs left in this field, which is expensive to pursue and ultra-high risk. One of the rare pieces of background info I could find on the company dealt with a tiny $3 million A round from 2015.

This drug in particular, though, has a notorious back story. This was the treatment that Phenomix was advancing for diabetes 8 years ago, alongside other drugs in the same class. But the treatment failed to distinguish itself and the biotech imploded, leaving it up for grabs.

The Golden Jubilee National Hospital near Glasgow noted that researchers were put on hold over “uncertainty due to EU withdrawal” and “completely unresolved” issues with the EMA that raised risks. Executive Chairman Roman Schenk told the BBC the Brexit situation was making things difficult, with the reporter adding that it’s understood that they’re worried about whether the EMA would accept trial data from the UK after the country exits the EU.

That in turn prompted a Scottish government spokesperson to tell the BBC that “this is the first clinical study we are aware of to be suspended in Scotland as a result of Brexit – and a very concerning sign of what could happen.”

Image: Tower Bridge, London Shutterstock

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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