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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Piers Morgan has more than 20 years Board level experience in drug discovery, clinical development in biotech, covering both small molecules and gene therapies. With extensive experience of strategy and capital markets, Piers brings to the company a deep understanding of running and financing a small biotech business, in-depth experience of drug development, a network of business advisers and investors supporting the biotech community.
Piers is currently CFO of Pangea Botanica Ltd, which is developing small molecule therapies in CNS. Previously Piers was CFO of COMPASS Pathways where he led their successful Nasdaq IPO in 2020, and was involved in raising almost $400m in equity funding as their programme successfully completed the largest psychedelic study in patients, to date. Prior to COMPASS, Piers was CFO of Verona Pharma, including leading its Nasdaq IPO in 2017, to raise $90m. From 2009 – 2014 Piers was CFO of uniQure NV, which obtained the first regulatory approval for a gene therapy in the Western world, as well as leading its $90m Nasdaq IPO in 2014 and negotiating a range of in-licensing and out-licensing transactions covering gene therapy programmes in CNS and metabolic diseases. Piers also served as a Director of Ikarovec’s predecessor company, Quethera Ltd, where he was closely involved in negotiating the sale of the glaucoma assets to Astellas in 2018.
Prior to his experience in biotech, Piers worked in investment banking for almost 10 years, focusing on M&A and equity capital markets; he holds an MA in Law and Management Studies from Cambridge University and qualified as an ACA with PricewaterhouseCoopers.”
Dr Imran Hamid
Senior Investment Principal at LifeArc
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.