PAH affects about 6,500 people in the UK, mostly women in their 30s, though it can affect people of any age, and is caused by a narrowing of the blood vessels that lead from the heart to the lungs. As these arteries narrow, it becomes harder for the heart to pump blood through to the lungs, leading to breathlessness and heart failure. Current therapies may alleviate some of the symptoms but there are no medical options that modify the course or outcome of the disease. Given the relatively young average age of diagnosis and the high mortality rate associated with PAH, it has a devastating impact on both sufferers and their families.
Professor Morrell leads the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Cambridge and is the Research Director of the National Pulmonary Hypertension Service at Papworth Hospital.
Morphogen-IX has worked closely with BHF and Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, to license the intellectual property arising from Professor Morrell’s research.
As a result, Morphogen-IX has raised £1.5m in seed funding, led by Index Ventures, along with Cambridge Innovation Capital and Cambridge Enterprise Seed Funds.
The company now intends to confirm the best drug candidate to take forward into full development.