August 30, 2019 | Mario Polywka joins Orbit Discovery’s Board of Directors

Oxford, UK: Orbit Discovery, an Oxford, UK-based biotech company developing an industry-leading peptide discovery platform, are pleased to announce that Dr Mario Polywka has joined their board as a non-executive director.

Mario Polywka brings exceptional operational, commercial and strategic development experience to Orbit Discovery. He retired as Chief Operating Officer of Evotec recently after 12 years in the role, and now sits on their Supervisory Board. He is also a member of the board of Forge Therapeutics Inc. and Exscientia Ltd. Previously, he held COO, CEO, chairman and non-executive director positions within Evotec and Oxford Asymmetry International as well as a number of Oxford and Southampton University spin-out companies.

Orbit Discovery’s peptide discovery platform builds on its unique capability to screen GPCRs for functional agonists and T-cell receptors for novel antigen and target identification. The platform was developed at the University of Oxford, from which Orbit was spun-out in 2016 with an exclusive, worldwide license to exploit the technology. Orbit is developing highly efficacious peptide-based drugs to target significant unmet medical needs in both internal discovery programmes and in collaboration with major pharmaceutical companies.

Alex Batchelor, CEO at Orbit: “Mario’s appointment further strengthens our board as we take Orbit into our next growth phase. His commercial and operational experience with Evotec supports both our partnered discovery programmes and our internal discovery efforts. As we continue to build our platform and create a powerful tool for both peptide therapeutics discovery and T-cell target identification we’re confident that Mario’s pragmatic and supportive approach will benefit not just our board, but our broader team and our partners.”

Mario Polywka said: “I’m delighted to join Orbit’s board. I have been aware of their technology since they were founded and have been impressed by the progress they have made to date. The ability to identify biologically active peptides directly in an initial functional assay clearly differentiates Orbit’s approach from phage and mRNA display. The added capability to screen T-cells for specificity and to identify new TCR targets adds further uniqueness to the platform which is in demand across the pharmaceutical industry. I’m looking forward to working closely with the board, Alex and the management team to drive their continued success.”


Nov 23, 2018 | Orbit Discovery awarded Innovate UK grant to find TCR off-target effects

Date: Nov 23, 2018

Companies making modified TCRs as drug products for Cancer Immunotherapy have a current pressing need to identify off-target binding of their products to ensure safety; there have been several reported patient deaths in clinical trials due to cardiac or gastric inflammation as a direct result of treatment with modified TCRs.

Our project aims to investigate and validate a broad screening solution that would enable more comprehensive and reliable screening of products earlier in development. This could reduce the risk of medical side-effects or fatalities during clinical trials and speed up development and deployment of more effective cancer treatments.

Orbit Discovery was established in November 2015 as a spin-out from Oxford University. The founding IP relates to our peptide display platform and its use for the identification of novel peptides and for the identification of T-cell epitopes in high throughput screens. We collaborate with industry to identify and characterise advanced therapeutics for a range of diseases.

We are pleased to announce that Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has recognised this opportunity to improve Cancer Immunotherapy and awarded Orbit a grant to test the feasibility of this off-target screening with our peptide display platform over the next 18 months.


May 23, 2018 | Press Release: Orbit Discovery Closes £6.9M Series A Financing

Date: May 23, 2018

Oxford, UK: 23 May, 2018: Orbit Discovery Ltd, an Oxford, UK-based biotech company developing an industry-leading peptide identification and optimisation platform, today announced the closing of a £6.9M Series A Financing. The round was led by Oxford Sciences Innovation who were joined by new investors RT Ventures, Borealis Ventures, Perivoli Innovations, along with further investment from all existing investors and Oxford University. Additionally, Borealis Managing Partner Phil Ferneau and Oxford Investment Consultants’ Partner James Mallinson join Orbit’s Board of Directors.

Orbit was co-founded in 2015 by Professors Graham Ogg and Terry Rabbitts from Oxford University’s Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine. Orbit uses a proprietary technology originally developed to provide a diverse library of peptides to probe the cell surface. The initial scientific objective was to present random peptides to T-cells with unknown specificity as a way to establish their epitopes – something that was challenging with alternative peptide display technologies. As Orbit’s technology also supports the presentation of non-natural amino acids, constrained peptides and peptides modified after translation, the company has also established programs in peptide drug discovery and development, both internally and in partnership with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

“We’ve been very successful in delivering on Orbit’s strategy, leading to growth in both capability development and commercial collaborations,” commented Alex Batchelor, CEO at Orbit. “This Series A funding allows us to greatly expand platform industrialisation whilst achieving the milestones in our existing three pharma partnerships. Moreover, we can support further strategic collaborations that align with development of our platform.”

“Orbit’s unique approach to peptide drug discovery and development, in combination with their well validated business model, has similarities to earlier Borealis investments that have been very successful”, commented Phil Ferneau. He added, “Having sufficient funds to further refine and develop the platform into novel areas such as functional screening of potential peptide drugs in cell-based assays combined with a sophisticated approach to partnering makes Orbit well placed to capitalise on increased interest in peptide therapeutics.”

James Mallinson added, “Since their formation in late 2015, Orbit have delivered on their early commitments and established a skilled and knowledgeable team. We’re delighted to be able to follow our seed investment with increased participation in this Series A round.”

About Orbit Discovery Ltd
Orbit Discovery was founded in 2015 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford to identify peptide therapeutics using its unique peptide display platform. Orbit peptides can be natural, non-natural, linear or constrained and the screening platform outputs functional molecules with potential for rapid development. Orbit works in collaboration with industry and academia to identify well characterized, selective hits for existing and novel drug targets where therapeutic peptides can establish a new standard of care.

About RT Ventures
RT Capital is a leading specialist investor in the commercialization of global university IP.

About Borealis Ventures
Borealis Ventures is an early stage venture capital firm that partners with entrepreneurs driving innovation in healthcare and the Built Environment. The firm’s healthcare investing centres on life science platforms and digital health opportunities, and often involves commercializing university research. Current life science portfolio companies include Adimab (antibody discovery), Avitide (affinity purification), and Compass Therapeutics (immuno-oncology and autoimmune therapeutics). To learn more, please visit

About Perivoli Innovations
Perivoli Innovations, which is wholly owned by the Perivoli Trust, invests in opportunities presented by the commercialisation of early stage life science, medical, digital, and other new technologies spinning mainly out of UK universities. It also invests in new businesses evolving around the digitalisation of money in East Africa. Its purpose is to fund the Perivoli Schools Trust which focuses on improving the quality of nursery schools in sub-Saharan Africa.


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