Working with research colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, Dr Andy Herbert discovered a mechanism by which the pathogenic bacterium streptococcus pneumoniae (imaged above) evades the human immune system.
On exposure to the host's blood, a protein on the bacterial cell surface binds a key down-regulator of the host's complement system to the bacterial surface. On binding, the down-regulator changes its conformation, making it five to ten times more active as a down-regulator, and preventing activation of the complement system which would otherwise lead to the destruction of the bacteria. Andy realised that this mechanism of action could be used to treat diseases and disorders driven by uncontrolled complement activation on cells, tissues, organs and medical devices.
In 2018, following several years of translational research, Andy co-founded Invizius with the ambition of developing his discovery into therapies to benefit patients. Now the company's CTO, Andy leads our team of development scientists.
Shortly after spinning out the company, Andy and his co-founder Richard Boyd met John Prosser. John's daughter, Alison, had recently died from complications while on dialysis. We are indebted to John and to the memory of Alison for the support and inspiration to improve the terrible outcomes that have long-persisted for patients on dialysis.