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Curapel, finalist in BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition, launches its first product

Curapel, a finalist in the BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition in 2014, has recently launched its first product on the UK market, Pellamex, which helps restore the skin protective barrier in dry, sensitive and eczema-prone skin.

Curapel is a skin healthcare company that was spun out of The University of Manchester’s Dermatology Centre four years ago. Under the brand name Curapella, the company is developing a portfolio of natural, safe and innovative products for people with chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.

The patented technologies underlying Curapel’s product portfolio were originally researched by Dr Gibbs and his colleague Dr Cath O’Neill who both received grants from BBSRC helping to take the ideas out of the lab and towards the market. Support from BBSRC Pathfinder and Follow-on Funding confirmed the validity and commercial potential of the technologies, while a BBSRC/Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowship allowed Dr Gibbs the time, training, confidence and access to investment to spin out Curapel in 2014.

Eczema is a chronic and distressing skin condition that affects up to 8% of the UK population and about 20% of young children. Current treatment relies heavily on steroid creams and immunosuppressant which are associated with side effects when used for long periods. Dr Gibbs was able to identify a natural compound to counteract recently discovered skin barrier (filaggrin) defects in atopic eczema. This technology was commercially attractive in that the active is safe, meaning that it could quickly be validated in a clinical study.

Within 18 months the concept had moved from the research bench into a study in adults with mild to severe atopic dermatitis. The results showed that once-a-day oral therapy reduced patients’ disease burden by around 40% over the course of a month; equivalent to the effects of mid-potency topical steroid cream. This clinical validation was instrumental to the further development, formulation and manufacture of Pellamex, which was recently launched as a food supplement for eczema at the Royal Society of Medicine. Evidence suggests it usually takes around 17 years for such research to have an impact on public health, so Curapel is making rapid progress.

Dr Gibbs continues to develop the company, which is based in Cardiff following substantial investment from the Development Bank of Wales. The recent launch of Curapel’s first product was a pivotal moment, “It’s been really exciting to see an academic research concept transform into a tangible product that is now being very well received by people who have eczema. The contribution of BBSRC support in this process cannot be overstated. From early testing of concepts through the BBSRC/RSE Enterprise Fellowship and positive commercial exposure that resulted from the Innovator of the Year competition, BBSRC has been instrumental to Curapel’s success.”

Curapel was a finalist in BBSRC's Innovator of the Year competition in 2014. Now in its 10th year, the competition recognises and rewards BBSRC-funded researchers that have harnessed the potential of their research to deliver impact. The Innovator of the Year competition is currently open to BBSRC-funded researchers and will close on 7 February 2018.

Find out more about Innovator of the Year.


Tags: commercialisation innovation pharmaceuticals health news