February 9, 2015 / 4:36 PM / 4 years ago

British biotech firm sets crowdfunding record with heart drug

LONDON (Reuters) - A British biotech company founded by a Nobel prize winner has raised what it says is a record 691,000 pounds ($1 million) via crowdfunding to help launch a stem cell-based regenerative medicine for use following heart trauma.

Cell Therapy, based in the Welsh capital Cardiff, says the medicine has the potential to reduce scarring of the heart muscle caused by a heart attack or failure.

Chief Executive Ajan Reginald, previously at Roche, said crowd funding was a quick way to raise money for final stage trials or commercial launches.

“It was very fast and very efficient,” he told Reuters on Monday. “We have spent 5 percent of our time on fundraising, which enables me to spend 95 percent of my time on the business.”

The company, whose founder Martin Evans shared the 2007 Nobel Prize for medicine for groundbreaking stem cell research, used website Crowdcube to raise nearly three times its original target from more than 300 investors.

Reginald said the backers included investment bankers, hedge fund employees and scientists.

“Crowd funding allows investors to look in detail at a company in their own time,” he said, adding that some 10,000 investors had seen the pitch.

The company would publish data from clinical trials of the drug, called Heartcel, next month, before final stage trials with a view to a launch in 2016.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by John Stonestreet

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