PhoreMost unveils plans for Series B and fresh spin-outs
Cambridge-based PhoreMost is set for a transformative phase of expansion that will create a revolutionary drug discovery business capable of influencing new treatments across a range of disease areas and featuring some of the world’s most influential Pharma players.
Founder and CEO Chris Torrance revealed the masterplan to Business Weekly in the wake of its cancer collaboration with Cambridge neighbour Vernalis.
Torrance says a Series B round will help light the fuse to an explosion of BioMedTech innovation featuring an elite and holistic group of game changers, including a number of fresh spin-out businesses. The company raised $15 million in its Series A round.
Vernalis, now owned by California company Ligand, and PhoreMost are working on an unidentified oncology target: PhoreMost identified and validated the target using its next-generation SITESEEKER® phenotypic screening technology.
Ligand will now apply its Vernalis Design Platform (VDP) to design small molecule inhibitors against the target, to help rapidly progress compounds through hit-to-lead and lead optimisation stages.
The objective of the collaboration is to out-license the resulting compounds for further development. Vernalis and PhoreMost will share downstream revenues of any future out-licenses.
Torrance said the Vernalis collaboration was exciting but was simply the first of many plays that his Babraham Research Campus enterprise would be triggering.
He said: “2019 will see PhoreMost increasingly emerge from a below the radar phase, having now successfully developed its core SITESEEKER platform to dramatically expand the range of novel targets in drug discovery.
“Based on the Series A funding in 2018, PhoreMost is now building a wide array of drug discovery programmes, as well as working in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies to help stock theirs.
“PhoreMost currently has 30 employees in the parent company where targets are initially identified, validated and progressed into early stages of drug discovery, but has already formed its first spin-out company – NeoPhore – to further progress a novel target that increases Neoantigen expression on cancer cells, which is aimed at expanding the range of cancer types responsive to transformative Immunotherapy drugs.
“Now PhoreMost is implementing a further expansion phase potentially aided by a Series B fund raise planned later in the year, which will see several more spin-out companies formed to move into additional therapeutic areas; some scheduled for 2019.
“Examples of new spin-outs will be: NeuroPhore (Neurodegenerative diseases), PhoreEver (Healthy Ageing pathways), PhoreGotten (Rare diseases), DegraPhore (pursuing targeted degradation as a novel strategy to drug ‘undruggable’ disease proteins) and several other oncology directed programmes.
“A core element of PhoreMost’s strategy and philosophy is to work collaboratively with academia (e.g., David Rubinsztein at the University of Cambridge on Neurodegeneration and the CCBT in Bangalore India on high-throughput protein structural biology) and SMEs (e.g., Sentinel Oncology, O2H and most recently Vernalis; expert medicinal chemistry outfits based in Cambridge, so as to best develop a diverse array of new targets efficiently into the clinic.
“PhoreMost has assembled over 25 partners globally covering almost all stages of the drug discovery pipeline.
“The last piece of the puzzle PhoreMost wishes to fill is to recruit clinical development partners into our new drug discovery model – perhaps even the NHS itself over time – fostering a fully joined-up future UK-biotech strategy that would draw other draw global biotech and pharmaceutical companies to our shores to develop new treatments more efficiently.
“Our long-term goals are bold, but the first significant steps have been made.”