In the future, scientists performing genetic analysis on the members of a family will be able to predict the likelihood of an individual developing diseases such as asthma or cancer. This will have implications for the health and insurance industries.
Oxagen specialises in identifying the genes associated with common diseases and sells its findings to pharmaceutical companies, which use this information to develop new treatments and diagnostic tests.
The company was founded by biochemists Trevor Nicholls and Mark Edwards in 1997 and based on research at Oxford University. The Wellcome Trust, Oxford University and business angels contributed initial funding of £2.3m. In a tough environment for biotechnology, but with 20 patents pending, it has gone on to raise almost £50m and plans to go public when the markets recover their appetite for biotech stocks.
Collaborations with industry giants such as AstraZeneca have enabled the Abingdon company to drive up sales 103% a year, from £519,000 in 1998 to £2.1m in 2000, although it still made significant losses.
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