A spin-out stem-cell firm from the institute that cloned Dolly the sheep has received £1.3 million to ramp up its research that is helping pharmaceutical giants develop new treatments for diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Censo Biotechnologies, founded in 2016 through the merger of Roslin Cellab and Roslin Cell Sciences - both previous spin-outs from the Roslin Institute - is to boost its staff numbers at its base south of Edinburgh and labs in Cambridge by almost double in the next two years as part of the expansion plan backed by the leading venture capital firm Par Equity.

The biotech firm, which currently employs 25 expected to grow to 45, provides research for some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Europe, the US and Japan.

HeraldScotland:

It produces stem-cells in a laboratory from a person’s skin or blood sample, which are then transformed into brain and other types of cells for research to create new and better medicines.

The £1.3m investment into Censo, part of which comes from the Scottish Investment Bank, will allow the company to expand its marketing and sales efforts and extend the commercial research services it provides to clients.

Aidan Courtney, Censo chief executive, described the process, saying: “So we can take blood from you and transform it into stem-cells which would have your DNA in, and that is the intermediate stage, we then specialise in transforming those cells into brain cells and other cells which we can then use in our labs to test compounds for drug discovery.

“What we are able to do is study in the lab how drugs would work on cells with the donor’s DNA, and that is the novelty of what we are doing."

He says the firm can target specific areas of interest such as the brain, which allows companies to examine how drugs vary in their efficacy across the population, and helps speed up drug development, with treatments more tailored to patients.

He said: “We especially focus on helping drug companies study inflammation in the brain and the reason for that is that people are increasingly recognising that in diseases like Alzheimers, like Parkinson’s, a significant component of why the disease develops is to do with inflammation in the brain.

"We are helping people focus in that particular area."The research that we are doing is helping advances in targeting Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer's, Huntington’s Disease and many others as well."

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Mr Courtney, above, said: “This investment from Par Equity has come at exactly the right time for the company.

"Over the past two years we have developed a comprehensive suite of resources which allow us to create human stem cells from any individual and use derivatives of these cells to test drugs for clients.

“Par Equity’s investment will allow us to broaden our service offering and accelerate growth.”

The investment comes from three sources, Par Equity’s Par Syndicate EIS Fund, which invests in young, innovative technology companies, the Par Syndicate, which is a network of specially selected expert investors, and the Scottish Investment Bank, which provides pledged capital to Par Equity as a co-investment partner of the Scottish Co-investment Fund.

Paul Munn, partner at Edinburgh-based Par Equity, said: “Our investment gives Censo the capital to build upon its important work, but we’re also very active managers.

"We’ll work closely with Censo’s management, drawing on the expertise and experience of our network of investors to give them the support they need to scale up this exciting business, which could help transform treatment of a number of serious diseases.”