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Department of Pharmacology


Professor Mark Howarth

Co-founder of SpyBiotech

When my lab initially developed a new kind of protein superglue, we had no idea what it would be useful for. We were thinking about using the superglue for following how proteins move around cells. It took a few years for us to find the best application, which turned out to be building vaccines. Having established collaborations with some great academic colleagues with the know-how on taking vaccines into clinical trials, it seemed like starting a company was the best way to take the science forward. Together we founded SpyBiotech in 2017, with various of our former lab members as the first scientists. The process of raising money and talking to investors was really illuminating and has helped me to think in a different way about designing projects towards big goals. SpyBiotech’s vaccine candidate entered clinical trials in the first people in 2020. A further clinical trial will be still starting soon, including against cytomegalovirus, one of the major causes of deafness and blindness in newborn babies. Starting a company has been an exciting process for me and has really accelerated how the lab can take our basic science towards contributing to some of these global challenges.