A biotechnology spin-off company set up by university scientists has raised Pounds 11 million in venture capital backing.
The deal, thought to be the largest sum raised through venture capital by a biotech firm, has enabled Arrow Therapeutics to sign a research and development agreement this week with US firm Triangle Pharmaceuticals, which develops drugs to combat Aids.
Alastair Hawkins, of Newcastle University's school of biochemistry and genetics, said: "The company will be able to capitalise on the technologies it has developed and benefit from the current genomics revolution, hopefully developing as a world leader in the anti-infective area."
Arrow was established in 1998 entering a market worth in excess of $20 billion (Pounds 13.8 billion). The company draws on research at Cambridge, Oxford and University College London as well as Newcastle and over the next 12 months intends to increase its staff from 29 to 60 and move to new premises in London.
It has five research programmes in anti-microbial drug discovery, using what is said to be a unique genome-based strategy to analyse bacterial genes. One of Arrow's antibacterial drugs is expected to enter clinical trials in 2001.
Professor Hawkins said the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council had provided continuous support for the basic science since 1982 but the current portfolio of grants would run out in 2003.
"This support formed the basis of my scientific research, which helped to convince investors to provide the original seed funding to set up Arrow," he added.
Commenting on the collaboration with Triangle Pharmaceuticals, Arrow chief executive Ken Powell said: "We are delighted to have entered this agreement so early in our development with a major pharmaceutical company that is the leading anti-viral clinical company."