chris___nowell_129x178Chiroscience Group plc was founded by Sir Chris in 1992 only a few months after Celsis and as another carve-out from his original Enzymatix Ltd hotbed of technologies. The principal objective of Chiroscience was to use its totally unique and patented chiral technologies in a way that maximised profitable applications within the pharmaceutical industry.

ce-53_62x110In lay terms, these chiral technologies provided pharmaceutical companies with the capability of manufacturing single isomer (mirror image) optically pure drugs in a highly efficient manner. A large number of drugs existed as impure, mirror image mixtures. The most notorious example is the molecule thalidomide, which was designed to be an effective morning sickness sedative, but its mirror image caused foetal defects if taken during gestation. The results were devastating. The ability to control how these molecules were manufactured or separated for discrete clinical trials was therefore very valuable to big Pharma companies.

chiros_08_149x152Chiroscience rapidly became a major success within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries because of this ability to manipulate single isomer versions of existing pharmaceuticals and produce better, safer drugs and because of its ability to develop a wide range of new chemical entities through the design of its chiral synthons portfolio. It was a world leader in the use of biocatalysis to make chiral molecules for new drugs.

chiros_03_145x148Chiroscience quickly became one of the flagship biotechnology companies in all of Europe. After being founded with just $5m from Schroders, Apax and 3i, it listed just two years later in 1994 with a valuation of $153m. Along with Celsis, Chiroscience was one of the first biotechnology companies to list in the UK. Its share price tripled in value on the stock exchange and at one stage was valued at close to $1 billion. By 2000 it merged with Celltech in a $1.3 billion deal, followed by another merger with Medeva in a $2bn deal. The group was finally acquired by UCB for $2.8bn (£1.53bn) in 2004 to create the fifth largest biotechnology company in the world.