PepGen Ltd. (PepGen)

PepGen is an Oxford-based biotechnology company, founded in 2018, with the ambition to transform genomic medicine through the development and translation of our innovative peptide-based drug delivery platform. Nucleic acid drugs are genomic medicines with the potential to transform human healthcare. Research has indicated that such therapeutics could have applications across a broad range of disease areas, including degenerative disorders, rare disorders and cancer. The use of this technology is highly promising, yet the main challenge impeding the clinical translation of nucleic acid-based drugs is drug delivery itself. PepGen’s aim is to overcome this delivery challenge. The advantage of PepGen’s novel CPPs is that efficacy and toxicology are decoupled in these peptides. As such, our CPPs are known to elicit highly effective delivery with dramatic reductions in the associated side effects often seen with other molecules in this class. It should be emphasised that this is a truly innovative step-change, and puts PepGen at the forefront of both drug delivery technology and nucleic acid therapeutics.

The company was founded in 2018 by a world-leading team of scientists from academic research groups in University of Oxford and the Medical Research Council in Cambridge by strong financial backing from Oxford Sciences Innovation. This delivery platform is a result of 10 years of development and PepGen’s primary focus is using our cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) to enhance the delivery of nucleic acid drugs into cells.

PepGen is involved in WP4, impact of brain dystrophins restoration on dystrophic mice phenotype, as a SME collaborative partner. The aim of this WP is to assess the impact that postnatal restoration of dystrophin expression has on neuropsychological / behavioral features in different mdx mouse models using antisense oligonucleotide (AON) exon skipping technologies. PepGen will provide their expertise and peptide-conjugated AON material. The peptide-conjugates will be used to compare their efficacy to other AON chemistries via local and systemic delivery. Improved delivery of AONs would be of great scientific interest for the field of neurodegenerative disorders in which CNS targeting and crossing the blood brain barrier is essential.

UCL

Website

pepgen.com

Team

 Ashling Holland

Dr Ashling Holland

Position in Organisation
Principal Scientist

Profile
Dr Ashling Holland (Principal Scientist) has been working in the muscular dystrophy research field since 2010. Her PhD focused on the pathophysiological mechanisms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Following a postdoctoral project exploring the proteomic signature and mechanisms of inflammatory diseases, Ashling joined the University of Oxford as a postdoctoral researcher and worked on developing antisense oligonucleotide-peptide conjugate therapeutics for muscular dystrophy, PepGen’s proprietary drug delivery platform. Ashling joined PepGen in 2018 and played a key role in establishing PepGen’s pre-clinical research department. She manages PepGen’s research collaborations and directs pre-clinical activities across multiple interdisciplinary drug discovery programmes.

Role in the project
Ashling Holland will be the lead contact for PepGen Ltd. She will manage PepGen’s contribution to the project and will coordinate with the relevant parties within and outside the project to insure a proper work flow. She will participate in project meetings and present project output at scientific events where appropriate.

Smita Gunnoo

Dr Smita Gunnoo 

Position in Organisation
Principal Scientist

Profile
Smita’s research background is focused on conjugation reactions between various biomolecules. She completed her DPhil at the University of Oxford on the modulation of antibody affinity via chemical modification. Smita then moved to Belgium to do a postdoc at Ghent University on improving the properties of therapeutic proteins through chemical modification. She worked at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) as a peptide chemist before joining PepGen, where she looks after the production of peptide delivery vectors and conjugate therapeutics, and works on platform development.

Role in the project
For BIND, Smita will co-ordinate and manage the production of PPMO material for the research activities planned within the network.