High times for UK biotech firm after Invesco takes £40m plunge

Invesco Perpetual has pumped £40 million into e-Therapeutics, a little-known biotech company founded by academics from Newcastle University.

Funding drives are normally about as sexy as a weathered minivan full of pensioners, but Invesco's gamble on e-Therapeutics has a twist: the pharmacology company is currently trialling a cannabis-based drug in the treatment of a brain cancer, glioma.

Codenamed ETS2101, the drug uses synthetic cannabinoids - that's fancy talk for the stuff that gets you high - and was originally developed by scientists in Israel.

In addition to its efforts to develop an effective cancer treatment, the firm's employment of "network pharmacology" - an approach to disease analysis that involves computers - is thought to have helped stimulate interest amongst investors.

"What has really excited investors is this quite distinctive approach to drug discovery. While most people are focused on one protein, our approach recongises that diseases are pretty complicated and that there are a whole network of pathways that can be tackled," said Daniel Elger, e-Therapeutics' financial director, according to The Times.

E-Therapeutics intends to spend around £25 million of its new kitty completing phase I clinical trials of ETS2101 in California. As well as assessing the drug's use in glioma treatment, the company will also fund investigations into six other forms of cancer.

The cash injection should give the company ample funding to run the programme through 2017.