Parkure: A pharmaceutical start-up with the recipe for success

A start-up looking to find the cure for Parkinson’s disease, Lysimachos Zografos tells BQ about his journey so far and his goals for Parkure.

Founded by entrepreneur and University of Edinburgh graduate Lysimachos Zografos, Parkure is a Parkinson’s disease (PD) focused drug discovery company.

The Edinburgh spin-out secured over £75,000 in crowdfunding investment through ShareIn earlier this year to help develop its cure for Parkinson’s disease and is continuing to grow.

The global market for drugs that simply treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s is currently £1.7bn. However, Parkure’s focus of a cure for the disease would open up a new market, worth a conservative estimate of at least £1.9bn. Parkure’s search for a cure could also lead to the discovery of new symptomatic treatments.

Lysimachos told BQ: “Our sole mission is to discover and optimise drugs that slow down or stop the process of PD and co-develop them to the market.

“We developed a very efficient method to look for drugs that can slow down or stop Parkinson’s and and tested it commercially, where it worked very well.

“We figured out that since we had a good tool in our hands we might as well use it. Diseases like PD are a growing threat for an ever-ageing society and sometimes avoided by big pharma because of the difficulties involved and the lack of good methods so far.

“As a result, currently there’s no cure for Parkinson’s disease, only an unmet need for one.”

It was this ambition to find a cure for Parkinson’s that inspired Lysimachos to launch Parkure to try and help find a solution.

He decided to launch the company and began searching for equity, which eventually led to the launch of the crowdfunding campaign.

He continued: “Drug discovery is really hard to seed fund. Thus we chose equity crowdfunding (ECF). After careful preparation we had a very successful campaign with great press coverage.

“Now we are the first ECF bootstrapped biomedical company in the UK. We have also secured a SMART grant from Scottish Enterprise, something that we did prior to the ECF campaign for additional proof of due diligence.”

Like any new entrepreneur launching their first company, Lysimachos decided to look for support when getting off the ground. Studying at the University of Edinburgh, he had been made aware of the university’s Launch.ed initiative.

He told us: “Launch.ed (UoE, ERI) and via my ongoing training program as a Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise fellow helped support me when starting-up.

“The companies non-execs are also a great free source of advice and support. In general I’m not afraid to ask – even if it’s reaching out to someone I don’t know. Most people are happy to help and I follow the same code by helping anyone who asks me.”

As an entrepreneur and as CEO of Parkure, he has overcome a number of challenges already in his career leading the firm.

He said his biggest challenge so far was “learning when to follow senior advice (theoretical) compared to when to follow my own conclusions or gut feeling as someone who has practical day-to-day experience. Learning how to completely “turn-off” distractions and focus on whatever the “plat du jour” issue of focus is.”

Lysimachos told us that his next big target is to raise £1.8m to further fund the project and help find the cure for Parkinson’s.

In making the idea stand out, he said: “Beyond the innovation in the technical sense (not other drug discovery methods like this – in-vivo & with throughput), this is a very cost efficient manner to reposition existing drugs (either marketed or shelved by pharma) on PD.

“As an approach this can de-risk drug development and shorten the time to market.“

With an estimated 127,000 people in the UK with Parkinson’s disease, the estimated cost to the UK’s NHS is around £2-3bn per annum.

The disease also poses a major threat for an ever-ageing population, which the UN predicts will rise to over 1.8 billion in the over 60s age group by 2050.

BQ look forward to following the business journey of Parkure and hopefully, to seeing a cure for Parkinson’s.