sideBackce-46_125x123Cyclacel was a spin-out formed by Sir Chris to commercialise the world class cancer research of Professor Sir David Lane at the University of Dundee.  Numerous investors were attracted following the initial seed investment by Merlin and it rapidly became the first ever European spin-out company to raise over $100m in external investment. In total, the company has now raised over $200m from investors in 18 countries.

The research papers that led to the formation of Cyclacel became one of the most cited pieces of research in scientific history leading to many international awards for Professor Lane.

18-cycla_edit_187x109The Cyclacel opportunity was originally identified by Sir Chris in the mid-1990s. Merlin Ventures provided £4m of seed funding and formed a spin out company with the Cancer Research Campaign in 1996 to commercialise the science of Professor Sir David Lane, who had discovered the p53 gene and a raft of other related genes to form good target for anti-cancer compounds. The p53 gene is acknowledged as playing a crucial role in cancer and the p53 gene research was voted ‘Molecule of the Year’ by Science magazine.


Despite the challenging nature of developing cancer therapeutics, Cyclacel went from strength to strength. Dozens of investors were attracted to the company from all over the world to help Cyclacel develop a deep clinical pipeline of small molecule drug candidates that target different aspects of the cell cycle to treat human cancers.