Forward Thinking to Reverse Cell Ageing
A team of world leaders in molecular and cellular biology have pioneered new anti-ageing technology through the University of Exeter spin-out company, SENISCA.
SENISCA has developed new approaches to reverse cellular senescence, which occurs when cells cease division and start to secrete inflammatory proteins. This can trigger cellular ageing and has a causative role in multiple age-related diseases.
They realised that they could turn back the ageing clock in old cells through restoration of correct regulation of RNA splicing, restoring the cells to a ‘younger’ state.
As a result of their research, SENISCA has successfully created a new and druggable means to rejuvenate aged cells. In turn, their innovation reverses the aesthetic and disease-causing aspects of ageing, allowing people to live healthier lives for longer.
The SENISCA journey started in 2016 when Professor Lorna Harries and her research group discovered their exciting research result. They then contacted the University’s Innovation, Impact and Business (IIB) team in November 2018, wanting advice on commercialising their research to benefit the wider community.
Over this time, Tori Hammond, IIB lead, worked alongside the team to help patent their technology, source grants and investment, and get the spin-out company incorporated, supported by a commercial mentor. She introduced them to SETsquared Exeter, the three times number one global university incubator, where they joined the Scale-up programme.
In 2020, the SENISCA company was founded by the expert co-founder team, Chief Scientific Officer Professor Lorna Harries, Chief Technical Officer Dr Ben Lee, and Chief Executive Officer Kirsty Semple.
By 2021 they had successfully secured an oversubscribed £1.3M from private investors, followed by a similar oversubscribed private equity round raising £2.15m in 2022, placing them securely as front-runners in the development of medicine that target the causes and effects of ageing.
Professor Lorna Harries, Chief Scientific Officer, said: “From my perspective as founder, I have been grateful to Tori and IIB for their support whilst navigating what was unchartered waters for me at the time.
“Introductions to commercial partners have been particularly valuable. Tori’s introduction to Kirsty Semple [Chief Executive Officer] was a real turning point in SENISCA’s journey. It shows the benefits that can be brought by bringing in people with these valuable commercial skills.”
SENISCA is currently based in the state-of-the-art University’s Research, Innovation, Learning and Development (RILD) building, a health education and research centre based at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital site in Exeter, near St Luke’s campus.
“We have been very grateful to the University more widely for their flexibility and generosity which, has been pivotal in our success to date,” said Professor Lorna Harries.
SENISCA’s future mission is to continue developing precision medicine for age-related diseases and bring economic growth to the South West region by firmly putting their Exeter Research Centre on the UK’s biotech map.
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If you would like to learn more about SENISCA and the science behind their reverse cell ageing, check out their website.