Oxford spinout MiroBio bags £27M for autoimmune R&D

MiroBio founders Richard Cornall and Simon Davis (MiroBio)

MiroBio has raised £27 million ($33 million) to fund research into immune cell regulation. The series A round will bankroll efforts to develop antibodies that treat autoimmune diseases by stimulating specific immune cell signals.

Simon Davis and Richard Cornall, both of the University of Oxford, founded MiroBio to build on their research into immune-signaling mechanisms. The research showed the role cell receptors play in the signaling that enables the immune system to tread the fine line between excessive and insufficient vigilance. And, in doing so, it pointed to a more targeted way to treat diseases characterized by an off-kilter immune system. 

That thinking led to the creation of MiroBio, an Oxford-based biotech with plans to use antibodies to activate the control mechanisms that typically stop the immune system from attacking healthy cells. Flipping the idea on its head could result in antibodies that ramp up the immune response, but, while MiroBio is exploring a variety of applications opportunistically, its focus is on autoimmune diseases.

“MiroBio has an innovative approach to regulating immune cell activity,” Samsara Biocapital’s Srini Akkaraju said in a statement. “By combining this understanding of receptor signalling with detailed knowledge of disease biology and expertise in drug development, we are building a compelling company which has the potential to create meaningful new medicines in a variety of therapeutic indications.”

The potential of the idea attracted Oxford Sciences Innovation and Samsara Biocapital, which co-led the round with the support of Advent Life Sciences and SR One. MiroBio will use the money to take forward its lead programs while building out its management team.

There are plenty of gaps to fill in the management team. Tim Funnell, formerly of Third Rock and Syncona, is serving as vice president of operations. Funnell worked at Oxford Sciences Innovation before joining MiroBio. No other management positions have publicly been filled on a permanent basis, although MiroBio can draw on the experience and connections of its VCs and founders.