Alongside this year’s Silicon Gorge: Spring Edition we’re going to be publishing profiles of a few of the companies that have made it through to the heats. This week, it’s Ferryx, a UoB spinout that’s creating bacterial products for gastrointestinal inflammatory illness.

Here to answer our questions is Ferryx CEO and co-founder Dr Jenny Bailey.

What does your company do?

Ferryx is a recently incorporated University of Bristol spin-out company, which is developing safe, effective bacterial products to prevent and treat gastrointestinal inflammatory illness in humans and animals. Our proprietary strains can be developed as food supplements or prescription therapeutics in both human and veterinary healthcare and will be licensed to marketing and distribution partners for market entry.

Our lead product is a rationally selected strain of Streptococcus thermophilus (FX856) with anti-inflammatory properties demonstrated in standard gastrointestinal disease models. Our ultimate goal is to take FX856 into clinical trials as a prescription medicine for the treatment of gastrointestinal inflammation in humans and animals but, to generate early revenue and a portfolio of safety information, we will first develop an over the counter (OTC) food supplement, targeted towards people with gastrointestinal complaints, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What problem are you trying to solve?

Gastrointestinal inflammation is part of many diseases affecting millions of people and animals worldwide; for example, IBS affects 900 million people and 6.8 million people have inflammatory bowel disease worldwide. Despite its high prevalence, a lack of treatment options means patients are often reliant on drugs with negative side effects. Bacterial products are popular due to their perception as safe, natural treatments, but currently, marketed products cannot function during active disease.

What makes your solution unique?

Ferryx is developing bacterial products which are functional during active inflammation, an area where conventional bacterial products fail. During active inflammation or stress, gut iron levels increase. Most resident gut bacteria can grow under high iron conditions, but conventional bacterial products cannot; they are rapidly outcompeted and cannot have a beneficial effect. Ferryx selects bacterial products which thrive under high iron conditions and thus function during active disease.

What are you most proud of so far?

It goes without saying that I am incredibly proud of our technology and how we’ve been able to develop this from a concept to a patented product. However, I’m equally as proud of the team that we’ve assembled to lead Ferryx and take our products to market. I’m lucky to work with some fantastic individuals who have incredible knowledge, expertise and the drive to make this a success.

How much are you raising and what do you want to use investment for?

We are currently raising £300,000 to prepare for a proof of concept clinical trial of FX856 in inflammatory bowel disease. Funding will allow us to optimise manufacturing at commercial scale, obtain regulatory and trial design advice, and engage further marketing and distribution partners.

What tools/people/services/organisations helped you most?

First and foremost, the Ferryx team have been the biggest support in getting to where we are today but, secondly, the University of Bristol has been key to setting up this company, in particular supporting our patent portfolio. Thirdly, our network of clinical advisers has supported us with their expertise in our target areas in both human and veterinary medicine. Finally, we have had some fantastic business advice and introductions through SETsquared, Future Space and Unit DX.

Where can we find out more about you?

Contact us directly by emailing jenny@ferryx.com or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Geraint Evans