The SBS Blog –
June 2023 Recap

June 2023 was a big month for Scottish Brain Sciences…but one that also promised big things on the horizon!

Early in the month saw our founder and CEO, Prof Craig Ritchie, jumping across the pond to attend the BIO International Convention, traditionally the world’s largest biotechnology conference held annually, this year in Boston. As one of a dozen or so other Scottish companies in the Life Sciences sector, Scottish Brain Sciences was there with support from Scottish Development International. “It was an incredible opportunity,” he said, “to learn about the art of business, interfacing with other companies, investors, potential partners, and sponsors…very different from conferences I’ve been part of before, which were exclusively academic. Lots of listening for me as a lot of people had already been made aware of us and wanted to talk to us and potentially partner because of the assets we’re developing.”

So just what is it exactly that Scottish Brian Sciences is developing? We’re glad you asked.

It’s called the IONA Longitudinal Cohort Study (IONA LCS), and it will deliver 3 important features. As Prof Ritchie explained, first and foremost, it will open access to clinical trials to everyone with concerns about brain health eligible for trials running here in Scotland, including those in more remote and rural areas. Another vital aspect of IONA LCS will ensure that the data and biological samples we collect can be used to validate diagnostic or prognostic tests for neurodegenerative disease, both in development and currently in use in a very large and real-world population. Lastly, because those samples and that data will be stored by us at Scottish Brain Sciences, we will be able to carry out our own research and discovery work to develop other tests and insights that will generate new knowledge about the earliest stages of neurodegenerative disease. Because, as we can all agree, the more energy we have devoted to finding truly viable tests and treatment for acquired neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, the better.

At the end of June, fresh from that boost of the BIO conference, Professor Ritchie and our COO, Michelle Armstrong, spent a week in the Bay Area, California, again with the support of Scottish Development International, exploring an important question: “Can we take the IONA LCS model which will have been incubated in Scotland and apply it in other regions around the globe?”

Prof Ritchie will quickly, and passionately, tell you why the answer to that question is so important. “What we are doing here [in the UK arena] is possible because Scotland is a small country and therefore, we can wrap our arms around all the key stakeholders – people living with dementia and those who have concerns about their brain health, universities, other Life Science Companies, government (both local and national), charities and health care providers. But, this is a small country – and Alzheimer’s is a global problem.” He goes on to explain why expanding to regions outside the UK is vital to the larger issue. Not only will we be able to help thousands more people, but expanding outside Scotland “also will provide an ethnic diversity that is sadly lacking here – because while there are a lot of things we can learn here, there are a lot of things that will remain silent to us about brain health and neurodegenerative disease, because we simply don’t have the ethnic  diversity represented in Scotland needed to give us a more all-encompassing perspective of this global problem.”

By far though, the highlight of the team’s trip to California was the reception, hosted by our friends and colleagues at Lilly at their Gateway Labs. Smiling as he spoke, Prof Ritchie said, “it was a delight to be hosted by them in South San Fran, and that the reception was so well-attended. They [Lilly] like what we’re doing, and they’re obviously a major pharmaceutical company that has been in the ‘Alzheimer’s space’ for over 30 years. So, I think in many ways, for a small start-up Scottish company, to be hosted by them, was a tremendous honour and a great opportunity. In a part of the world where we know some people, it helped open the door for a lot of other people to come through who might not have been familiar with our work. It was a chance for us to showcase what we’re doing, and why we were doing it.”

So, overall, June was a very exciting month for us here at Scottish Brain Sciences…and we hope to have more exciting news to share with you all in the months to come. Keep checking our website for all the updates!