Our Story

The star of our story is a protein superglue of unprecedented stability and stickiness.

We have exclusive rights to apply the SpyTag/SpyCatcher technology to the field of vaccinology.


SpyBiotech co-founder Mark Howarth and his team at Oxford University’s Department of Biochemistry began studying the common bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, attracted by its ‘surprising chemistry’ and how that might be applied to the development of protein superglues.

Streptococcus pyogenes has exceptional anchors, rarely found in proteins, that enable it to attach to human cells. The protein locks on to itself without the need for any chemical modification or external manipulation and becomes extremely stable.

The team worked to turn that locking mechanism into a glue by splitting the protein into two pieces and then re-forming it through an irreversible covalent bond. The result was SpyTag/SpyCatcher - a protein superglue of unprecedented stability and stickiness that is relatively simple and quick to produce. Unlike actual superglue, SpyTag and SpyCatcher also have the advantage of only sticking to each other. The technology is now being used in over 30 countries by research scientists working with proteins.


In collaboration with Jenner Institute vaccinologists, Sumi Biswas, Simon Draper and Jing Jin as company co-founders, SpyBiotech was spun out from the University of Oxford with exclusive rights to apply the proprietary SpyTag/SpyCatcher technology to the field of vaccinology.

We raised £5 million in seed funding to date from Oxford Sciences Innovation, the capital investor for Oxford University, and GV, an independent venture capital arm of Alphabet.


Our research is currently focused on developing vaccines to combat two viral diseases with huge unmet medical need and significant commercial potential.

Our human cytomegalovirus (CMV) candidate reached GMP process development in under 2 years. Our second candidate vaccine reached pre-clinical testing within 6 months of initiation.

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