MVM launches drug discovery firm

Life sciences investor MVM has acquired CeNeS Pharmaceuticals' drug discovery division as part of a broader £5m investment round.

MVM, the UK-based venture capital investor which specialises in life science investments, has established Xention, a UK-based company that will focus on the discovery and development of drugs for cardiovascular and neurological disorders.

The firm has acquired the Ion Channel Technology Business of CeNeS Pharmaceuticals for £750,000. The assets acquired from CeNeS include the company's AutoPatch technology, which will be the main focus of Xention’s drug development.

In addition to the £750,000 acquisition, MVM is committing £4m in working capital to Xention which will fund the company for the next two years.

The investment is the first to come solely from the firm’s MVM International Life Sciences Fund II, which closed at the end of April at £100m, £40m above the firm’s original target.

MVM director Aleema Mahmood said that MVM was already looking for further potential acquisition targets for Xention. “Acquisitions are a definite possibility, although in the short term our commitment to Xention is to develop a successful drug discovery business exploiting these new methodologies.”

David Brister and Aleema Mahmood of MVM will join the Xention board, together with Tim Brears (formerly vice president at Sangamo BioSciences). Seven staff from CeNeS, which will retain a minority shareholding and option rights over Xention, have also transferred to the new company.