Aurum Biosciences has raised almost £730,000 in the first tranche of new equity funding aimed at developing its therapeutic and diagnostic technology.

The round – which will be split across two tranches – has been supported by new and existing investors, including co-founder Dr Celestine Santosh, InnoScot Health, Scottish Enterprise, TRICAPITAL and several private investors.

A spin-out of InnoScot Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the University of Glasgow, the clinical stage company Aurum is developing a novel drug for therapeutics and multiple diagnostics in areas of unmet clinical need such as stroke, spinal cord injury and inflammatory imaging.

This drug is a novel oxygen carrier, but is also being developed as a contrast agent for imaging with MRI.

The funds will be used to advance the company’s patented ABL-101 platform technology, ahead of further planned investment later this year.

ABL-101 has the potential to offer advancements in the management of acute stroke patients, especially acute ischemic strokes (AIS) – a leading global cause of disability and the second-leading cause of death.

It also has the potential to reduce ischemic damage in acute spinal cord injury, improve treatment options in radiotherapy resistant tumours, and reduce secondary organ damage in cardiac arrest among other uses.

Santosh, a clinical consultant neuroradiologist with a special interest in stroke working at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow – and now chief medical officer and chief scientific officer of Aurum – commented: “I believe that my own participation in this round amply demonstrates my huge belief in its vast benefits and wide applications.

“My clinical background and knowledge of the great team in place at Aurum tells me all I need to know – that this is a company which offers unique know-how and has world-leading capabilities that will only go from strength to strength and will help to put Scotland on the map.”

Aurum chief executive David Brennan said: “This is a significant step up on the previous round and w believe that is testament to the vast potential of, and significant clinical need for, ABL-101, particularly in stroke treatment and diagnosis.

“We increasingly now set our sights on its applications for acute spinal cord injury trials following very positive scientific advice from MHRA.

“Advancing management of strokes remains our primary goal and commitment, with one in six people globally having a stroke in their lifetime, 5.8 million dying each year as a result, and disability increasing by 1% for every nine minutes of stroke.

“However, we are certain that spinal cord injury will also become an increasing focus as we further develop pipeline indications, providing hope for the many patients, carers and healthcare professionals who live with the consequences of such devastating conditions.”

Graham Watson, executive chair of InnoScot Health, said: “This new funding round further bolsters our collective belief in what ABL-101 can achieve in tackling AIS whilst also targeting other life-threatening and serious conditions.

“In Scotland alone, stroke is the third biggest killer and the leading cause of disability, while the number of people injured or diagnosed with a life-changing spinal cord injury in the UK is estimated to be 2,500 per year, requiring comprehensive rehabilitation and life-long care.

“We are incredibly proud to be part of Aurum Biosciences’ progress to date as a truly pioneering success with exciting development plans and widespread investor interest.”

Last year, Aurum was recognised by the UK’s Innovative Licensing and Access Pathway (ILAP) for ABL-101 and awarded an Innovation Passport, which acts as a gateway to the accelerative pathway, streamlining innovative products to market.

The ILAP was awarded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the Scottish Medicines Consortium.

Kerry Sharp, director of entrepreneurship and investment at Scottish Enterprise, added: “The company is developing advanced treatments against stroke and other life-threatening conditions, which has the potential to deliver huge benefits for patients across the world.”