Syncona celebrates as Blue Earth cancer treatment wins EU approval


Syncona (SYNC), the £1 billion life sciences fund formerly known as Battle Against Cancer (BACIT) investment trust, got a boost today as its largest holding, Blue Earth Diagnostics, won EU approval for its prostate cancer treatment.

BACIT, an innovative fund of funds which donated some 1% of its assets to cancer research, merged with the investment arm of Welccome Trust last year and was renamed Syncona.

Just over 12% of its assets are invested in a 90% interest in Blue Earth, which has gained European approval for its prostate cancer diagnostic agent Axumin.

The injectable product is used to identify suspected sites of prostate cancer recurrence in adult men who have already suffered from this type of cancer. It has just been approved by the European Commission, meaning it can be sold in all EU member states as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway.

The approval comes after a recommendation from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) on 24 March that Axumin be granted marketing authorisation.

The CHMP’s authorisation led to a 30% write-up in Blue Earth’s valuation and added 3.9p, or 3%, to Syncona’s net asset value (NAV).

Today shares in Sycona jumped 4.6%, or 7p, to 160p lifting its market value to just over £1 billion, making it the third largest investment trust in the AIC’s Flexible investments sector.

Syncona is co-managed by Tom Henderson, formerly a fund manager at Cazenove and brother of James Henderson, manager of Lowland (LWI), Law Debenture (LWDB) and Henderson Opportunities Trust (HOT).

Since the merger, the company has changed its investment policy to allow it to invest a increasing amount in life sciences companies alongside its previous funds portfolio. It holds £250 million invested in seven companies, including Blue Earth, under the management of a team led by Martin Murphy.

The company also has shares in Autolus – which star fund manager Neil Woodford holds through his Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT). It uses a patient’s own immune cells to target and destroy cancerous cells which it hopes can be used to treat blood cancers.

For more information on Syncona read the in-depth feature in issue 38 of our Investment Trust Insider e-zine.

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