UK – Macomics, a UK immuno-oncology company, has raised £4.24m in follow-on financing from its 2020 seed round as it aims to accelerate the development of its macrophage-based therapeutics portfolio.

The new investment and planned Series A financing will enable Macomics to accelerate progress if its antibody programmes toward the clinics while also expanding its portfolio and further investing in its target discovery technology.

Its target discovery platform will enable the identification and validation of novel macrophage therapeutic targets, based on a ‘deep understanding of macrophage biology’.

The company also announced that it has expanded its research and development (R&D) and office facilities on the Cambridge Science Park and has secured additional laboratory and cell culture space within Edinburgh University.

A macrophage is a type of phagocyte, which is a cell responsible for detecting, engulfing and destroying pathogens and apoptotic cells and are usually produced through the differentiation of monocytes, which turn into macrophages when they leave the blood.

In the recent past, various research has shown macrophages as a component that can possibly be used to repair tissues after an injury.

Just recently, scientists reported that an analysis of how individual cells react to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB) in an effort to pave way for new vaccine strategies against this deadly disease.

The approach was developed in the lab of David Russell, PhD, the William Kaplan Professor of Infection Biology in Cornell’s department of microbiology and immunology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and detailed in a new collaborative research paper published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

This team has combined two analytical tools that each target a different side of the pathogen-host relationship:

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria (reporter) that glow different colors depending on how stressed they are in their environment; and single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), which yields RNA transcripts of individual host macrophage cells.

After infecting mice with the fluorescent reporter Mtb bacteria, the team was able to gather and flow-sort individual Mtb-infected macrophages from the mouse lung.

The researchers then determined which macrophages promoted Mtb growth (red-glowing bacteria) or contained stressed Mtb unlikely to grow (green-glowing bacteria).

Next, they took the two sorted, infected macrophage populations and ran them through single-cell RNA sequencing analysis, thereby generating transcriptional profiles of each individual host cell in both populations.

When the scientists compared the macrophage single cell sequencing data with the reporter bacteria phenotype, they found an almost perfect one-to-one correlation between the fitness status of the bacterium and the transcriptional profile in the host cell.

Macrophages that housed green bacteria also expressed genes that were known to discourage bacterial growth, while those with red bacteria expressed genes known to promote bacterial growth.

The finding lays a foundation for more powerful studies on how pathogens affect individual cells, allowing for a holistic examination of the system.

This approach is extremely flexible and could be used in the study of any intracellular pathogen, including viruses, and is readily applicable to any animal challenge model.

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