Allergy business raises £11m

It’s a grim news day. House prices fell 0.4 per cent in December, says the Land Registry. And today, the pub chain Mitchells & Butler announced a £274m hit on an aborted property deal, making it the UK’s first big victim of the global credit crunch.

No wonder research out today from the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College in the US finds that middle-aged people are increasingly suffering from depression (44 is the age at which we’re most likely to get depressed, apparently). At least one UK firm has news to cheer us up. Circassia, which calls itself a "clinical-stage specialty biopharmaceutical company focused on developing medicines designed to control immune system responses" – that’s allergy treatments to you and me – announced today that it has raised £11m in an oversubscribed second round of funding. The firm was originally backed by Imperial Innovations, the technology transfer division of Imperial College, London, hotbed of many of the UK’s high-potential technology firms. As Steve Harris, Circassia’s CEO, says: “We have made good progress advancing our anti-allergy products during the past year, and successfully completing this funding, particularly in the current challenging market conditions, is a strong vote of confidence from a syndicate of world-class investors.”

More than 150 million people suffer from allergic rhinitis in the US and Europe. If Circassia’s products work, at least a few of us will be cheered up.

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