Biotech start-up, DJS Antibodies, is the second company to move into the newly converted class II laboratory space at The Oxford Trust’s Wood Centre for Innovation.
DJS Antibodies, which will join recently announced Samsara Therapeutics, was founded in 2015 by David Llewellyn and Joe Illingworth who met while studying at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute.
DJS is working on new therapeutics to treat the world’s most critical inflammatory diseases, a class of disease that accounts for more than 50% of deaths worldwide. DJS has taken over 2,000 sq ft of laboratory and office space for their nine staff.
They have developed HEPTAD, a new platform for antibody discovery built on a deep understanding of immunology and antibody generation. The platform enables the discovery of antibody medicines that target key disease-causing proteins which, to date, have been intractable to drug discovery. Their lead programme targets a validated GPCR (G protein-coupled receptor) for the treatment of Diabetic Kidney Disease, a long-term condition that causes the irreversible loss of kidney function.
David Llewellyn, chief executive officer, DJS Antibodies, said: “There could not be a better place for DJS to take its next steps as a rapidly growing biotech company. With state-of-the art new laboratories, right between Oxford’s two major hospitals, and just a stone’s throw from some of the best academics and young companies in the world, we’re thrilled to call the Wood Centre for Innovation our new home. The cherry on the cake is the Centre’s physical location, surrounded by beautiful woodland, and the Trust’s adjoining Science Oxford Centre which allows our team to volunteer to help bring science alive to the next generation of young people.”
The Oxford Trust’s development of class II laboratory facilities at its Wood Centre for Innovation is to answer the significant demand that has been seen in the last year from science and tech start-ups and SMEs for lab space in Oxford’s world-leading life sciences cluster, centred in Headington, delivering lifesaving developments such as the COVID-19 vaccine – highlighted at the G7 health summit in Oxford last week.
The Trust has received £100,000 in funding towards the £500,000 project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund, secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). The laboratory conversion is expected to boost employment and further economic growth for the local community and city as companies like DJS and Samsara Therapeutics move in.
Steve Burgess, chief executive officer, The Oxford Trust, said: “We warmly welcome DJS Antibodies who join us as they continue their impressive strategy and growth plans to unlock immunology to deliver revolutionary medicines. They become part of our 28-company strong thriving community of science and tech start-ups and spin-outs across our two centres. DJS is the second biotech company to take advantage of our new R&D lab – and office – space, giving businesses the flexibility to expand and grow on their innovation journey.”
“We would also like to thank OxLEP for their support for the Trust and Oxfordshire’s innovation ecosystem. With national government funding for this project, we have been able to quickly pivot to meet the high demand from companies needing specific lab space. Based on the current demand, we are considering further conversion of lab space at our Wood Centre for Innovation.”
The laboratory conversion project was carried out by specialist project managers Bulb Laboratories. The project totalled 3,300 sq ft of advanced R&D laboratory space for work at containment level 2 with climate control and air handling, supported by 500 sq ft of shared facilities for common equipment and specialist microscopy use, including liquid nitrogen storage, autoclave use, ultrapure water supply and a darkroom facility.
Surrounded by 15-acres of woodland, the Wood Centre for Innovation is within easy reach of the clinical and medical research facilities at the University of Oxford’s Old Road Campus, major research hospitals, and Oxford Brookes University.
Alongside the laboratory space, the Wood Centre for Innovation provides grade A offices, co-working and desk space in Barclays Eagle Lab, a lecture theatre, meeting rooms, a café area and sector-specific business support.
The Trust’s two innovation centres – the Wood Centre for Innovation and the Oxford Centre for Innovation in the city centre – are managed by Oxford Innovation, a spin-out from The Oxford Trust and the UK’s leading operator of innovation centres. The income from the innovation centres is invested into innovation programmes and the Trust’s Science Oxford education and engagement programmes to inspire the scientists and innovators of the future.
DJS will join Barclays Eagle Labs, the Low Carbon Hub, Lurtis, Spintex, Printpool and SSEN.