Aberdeen’s ‘poo entrepreneur’ secures £500k for novel biotech therapy

A final-year medical student at Aberdeen University has secured £500,000 of seed finance to take forward his novel treatment for superbug infections.

James McIlroy, 24, launched his own biotechnology firm, EnteroBiotix, to develop “faecal microbiota transplantation” (FMT).

The process implants intestinal faecal bacteria and yeasts from a healthy donor into someone who lacks the essential microflora they need for their gut to function properly.

FMT is largely inaccessible and expensive, so for EnteroBiotix the goal is to develop an orally-delivered treatment.

The firm’s new MicrobeDS therapy removes the need for the invasive medical procedures currently used to administer FMT, while also simplifying the design of placebo-controlled clinical trials.

Mr McIlroy’s bid for seed finance was led by Edinburgh-based business angel syndicate Equity Gap and supported by the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.

The investment will be used to further develop the company’s product pipeline and grow its manufacturing and research team.

EnteroBiotix currently has a core team of three, and Mr McIlroy – already dubbed the “poo bank entrepreneur” for his efforts to set up a platform allowing patients to bank their own bacteria before medical treatments that disturb the delicate balance of the gut – expects this to grow to nine by the end of this year.

The funding includes a £100,000 SMART:Scotland feasibility grant to help him develop oxygen-free collection and processing facilities.

Mr McIlroy said: This investment and grant funding will be pivotal in furthering the objectives of EnteroBiotix as we develop the first orally available products for FMT in Europe.

“We are excited to work with Equity Gap and Scottish Enterprise as we build EnteroBiotix into a dominant player in this fast-moving field of science and medicine.”

Equity Gap investor director Fraser Lusty said: “We are delighted to provide the early equity to back James and the team at EnteroBiotix.

“He has impressed greatly with his vision, ambition and desire to create a business that will provide a much-needed solution for disease prevention and treatment.

“He has secured strong clinical and commercial collaborations, and the funding will be used to develop these.”

EnteroBiotix is on track to make a first commercial sale in early 2018.