Izana Bioscience Launches As New Clinical-Stage Translational Medicine Company Developing Namilumab In Ankylosing Spondylitis

Find our press release as a PDF here in addition to being found below.

  • Namilumab exclusive worldwide licence granted by Takeda
  • Awarded £1.35 million grant by Innovate UK to support phase II proof-of-concept study
  • Highly experienced management team; co-founded by serial entrepreneur Bryan Morton

Oxford, UK – 14 December 2017:  Izana Bioscience (“Izana” or “the Company”) launches today as a new clinical-stage translational medicine company.  Izana is initially focused on the development of namilumab (IZN-101) in ankylosing spondylitis, and has entered into an exclusive worldwide licence agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE: 4502) for the right to develop, manufacture and commercialise the product in all indications.  As part of the licence agreement, Takeda has taken a strategic equity stake in Izana. 

Izana is well funded, and is backed by a team of highly experienced pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, led by Professor Bryan Morton CBE.  The Company has also been awarded a grant of £1.35 million by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, to support a phase II proof-of-concept study in ankylosing spondylitis, a debilitating arthritic disease of the spine that is estimated to affect over four million people in major markets worldwide. 

Bryan Morton, Chairman of Izana, said: “The launch of Izana is truly exciting, both for the Company and the wider UK life sciences sector, as we build a new UK-based translational medicine business focused on bringing innovative science to market.  We are delighted that the novelty of our approach has already been recognised by Innovate UK, and Takeda has trusted us to progress this promising antibody, initially in the greatly underserved indication of ankylosing spondylitis.  Working with world-leading experts at Oxford University Hospitals, we look forward to moving our lead product into phase II testing in the near future, as we work to translate world-class science into a world-leading business.” 

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford, & Chairman of the UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board, said: “I am excited at the launch of Izana Bioscience, which has the potential to become a great exemplar of the UK Life Sciences Industrial Strategy that we published at the end of August.  Bringing together a great UK team, collaborating with the NHS and leading UK scientists, and with support from Innovate UK, Izana is showcasing true innovation to benefit patients.” 


Namilumab is a human monoclonal antibody targeting granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF).  The antibody has demonstrated efficacy in a phase II proof of concept trial conducted in over 100 rheumatoid arthritis patients, and has been well tolerated in previous clinical studies.  Research published recently in Nature Communications* by Oxford University scientists indicate GM-CSF is a highly promising target for ankylosing spondylitis therapeutics. Takeda has granted Izana a licence to develop, manufacture and commercialise Namilumab worldwide and for any indication, further to its right to sublicense under its licence agreement with Amgen.

Innovate UK grant

Izana’s namilumab clinical development plans are supported by a £1.35 million grant from Innovate UK.  The Company intends to conduct a phase II proof-of-concept study in ankylosing spondylitis.  Izana plans to initiate the study in approximately 30 patients in the first half of 2018. 

Ankylosing spondylitis

Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine and can lead to severe chronic pain and long-term disability.  In advanced cases, new bone can form causing sections of the spine to fuse.  The condition is estimated to affect over four million people in major markets worldwide.  Treatment options are limited for more advanced disease, with over half not responding to, or not achieving remission with, mainstay anti-TNFα antibody therapies.  The treatment market in major countries is predicted to reach over $5 billion by 2020.

Management team

Izana was founded by a team of experienced pharmaceutical industry entrepreneurs and clinicians.  The team is led by Chairman Professor Bryan Morton CBE.

Bryan Morton – Chairman

Bryan is a serial entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience of the pharmaceutical industry.  Previously, he was founder and CEO of EUSA Pharma, which was acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals in 2012 for $700 million.  Prior to EUSA, he founded Zeneus Pharma, which he sold to Cephalon for $360 million.

Dr Someit Sidhu – Chief Executive Officer

Prior to his role as Chief Executive of Izana, Someit worked for McKinsey & Company in its Pharmaceuticals and Medical Products division.  Previously, he practised medicine in cardiology and general surgery following his graduation from the University of Oxford Medical School.

Dr Tim Corn – Chief Medical Officer

Tim was formally Chief Medical Officer, International at Jazz Pharmaceuticals.  Prior to this, he was CMO at EUSA Pharma and Zeneus Pharma, having held senior clinical and regulatory positions at Merck, GlaxoWellcome and the UK Medicines Control Agency.  During his career he has steered over 20 products to approval in the US and EU.


Dr Someit Sidhu Rob Budge

Chief Executive Officer RJB Communications

Izana Bioscience +44 (0) 1865 760969

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*Nat Commun 2017 Nov 15;8(1):1510. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01771-2.

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