Background

Ikarovec is a UK-based biotech gene therapy company with a focus in ophthalmology.
Ikarovec was originally formed as a spin-out from the biotechnology company Quethera, which was acquired by Astellas Pharmaceuticals in 2018.
Since June 2020, the Ikarovec laboratory and office have been based at the Innovation Centre on the Norwich Research Park.

Peter Widdowson

Founder

Dr. Peter Widdowson has over 30 years of drug discovery experience during which he has worked on a number of small molecule, protein and gene therapy approaches to managing disease. He has held a number of senior scientific roles within Servier (Research Group Leader), AstraZeneca (Senior Scientist and Project Research Manager), Pfizer (Senior Scientist and Project Research Manager), OSI Pharmaceuticals (Director of Pharmacology) and overseeing and managing the development of three lentiviral vector gene therapies for a number of indications whilst working at Oxford BioMedica. Peter was the co-Founder and CEO of the gene therapy company, Quethera which was established in 2015 and sold to Astellas Pharma of Tokyo in 2018 to gain access to the novel retinal protection product for patients with glaucoma. Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree in human Physiology from the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne (1981) and a PhD in neuropharmacology from Manchester University (1984).

Senior Leadership Team

Katie Binley

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr Katie Binley has over two decades’ of gene therapy expertise. While at Oxford Biomedica she played a key role in the early stages of the bench-to-clinical transition of a range of gene therapy projects including several ocular indications (wet age-related macular degeneration, Stargardt Disease and Ushers Syndrome 1B).

She joined Oxford BioMedica in 1997 as one of the first scientists as the company was spun out of the Kingsman Laboratory in Oxford University, later becoming Director of Biology. In a recent project Katie managed a multi-disciplinary team to develop a novel Parkinson’s gene therapy that was licensed exclusively to a US -based company (Axovant Sciences) in 2018 in a multi-million dollar deal.

She joined Ikarovec from PepGen, a University of Oxford spin-out focused on addressing the delivery challenge of nucleic acid therapies, where she was Head of Preclinical Development.

Katie has a Dual Honours Degree in Genetics and Microbiology, and a PhD in Yeast Molecular Genetics, both from the University of Sheffield.

 

 

Andy Osborne

Head of Biology

Dr Andy Osborne has over a decade of hands-on, ocular gene therapy experience from the University of Cambridge. He was involved in several research programmes designed to protect or regenerate the optic nerve using adeno-associated viral vectors before joining Quethera in its first year and taking the research through discovery, lead identification, and pre-clinical testing.

Andy spent 2 years working for Astellas Pharma progressing the Quethera project through humanising the construct and performing dose escalation studies in various rodent models of glaucoma whilst helping to establish ikarovec.

Andy brings a wealth of experience in preclinical gene therapy development to the Ikarovec team, including expertise in both in vitro and in vivo models of ocular disease. Andy has an honours degree in Biological Sciences, and a PhD in Pharmacy, both from the University of East Anglia.

Company Directors

Oliver Sexton

Investment Director UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund

Oliver invests from UKI2S, an early stage seed/series A fund that backs companies developing complex science and engineering led solutions to global challenges. Specialising in life science investments Oliver joined UKI2S in 2014. He has therapeutic, med tech, agritech and industrial biotech companies in the portfolio and sits on the board of Ikarovec, a gene therapy company and Gyreox, a macrocycle company as well as observer positions at the cell therapy company Cytox.

Prior to joining UKI2S Oliver managed commercialisation of bioengineering and medical technologies at Imperial Innovations and worked at Ark Therapeutics as well as managing a team of biotech buy-side analysts. Oliver has a BSc in Molecular Biology/Biotechnology and an MSc from Bristol University.

 

Dr Imran Hamid

Senior Investment Principal at LifeArc

Imran Hamid is a Senior Investment Principal at LifeArc, responsible for both leading new investments and managing existing portfolio companies. Imran has over 15 years of biopharma, digital health and med tech experience with a career spanning clinical practice, strategy, entrepreneurship, M&A, R&D and venture investing.
Prior to joining LifeArc, Imran was Senior Director of New Ventures and Transactions at Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Director of Business Development and Licensing at Mallinckrodt and Director of Commercial Discovery at Merck & Co. Imran received his medical degree from Imperial College London, where he graduated with joint honours from the Imperial College Business School. He is a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.

Dr Cassie Doherty

Investor Director from Parkwalk

Cassie Doherty is Investment Director with Parkwalk Advisors, the largest EIS growth fund manager focused on University spin outs. She has worked in life sciences investment for over 10 years and has experience in fundraising, licensing and acquisition, intellectual property and technology commercialisation.

Prior to this she led drug development programmes from academic research in Phase II clinical studies. She holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.