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15 June, 2022 - 22:16 By Jamie Quested

Spirea raises £2.4 million to develop next generation ADC therapeutics

Cambridge-based Spirea Limited, which was created to advance a new generation of antibody drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, has secured £2.4 million funding from UK and US investors.

The investment was co-led by Jonathan Milner and Cambridge Enterprise, and included backing from US-based R42 Group, ACF Investors, o2h Ventures, Syndicate Room and the Cambridge Angels.

Spirea will use the funds to initiate its pipeline of superior and differentiated ADCs in the treatment of solid tumours where there is a high unmet need. ADCs combine the cell killing activity of a cytotoxic drug with the cancer targeting capability of a monoclonal antibody. 

Although the ADC concept has been exemplified with approved products, many ADC programmes have failed to progress through clinical development because of dose-limiting toxicities, restricted efficacy, and limitations in the range of treatable cancers.

Spirea’s technology allows more cytotoxic drug to be attached to the targeting antibody (a higher drug-to-antibody ratio) which means more drug is delivered to the cancer cell. This allows for the development of stable and tailored ADCs incorporating a variety of drug payloads at varying levels of potency and different modes-of-action. This will result in cancer therapeutics with significantly better efficacy and safety profiles.

Spirea CEO Dr Myriam Ouberai said: “We welcome our new investors and thank our existing investors for their continuing confidence in Spirea. With our novel approach to building ADC therapeutics, we aim to radically improve the treatment options for patients with hard-to-treat cancers.

“Having shown the flexibility and strength of our technology, we look forward to the next exciting stage in the development of Spirea’s ADC pipeline and to building significant strategic partnerships.”

Dr Christine Martin, Head of Seed Funds at Cambridge Enterprise, said: “This is an exciting time for Spirea and we are pleased to be supporting them with this further investment. 

“Spirea’s innovative antibody drug conjugate technology is highly differentiated, and we believe it holds great value and potential to lead developments in the field of cancer therapeutics.”

Dr Jonathan Milner, founder of Abcam and CEO of Meltwind Advisory added: “Spirea has overcome many of the hurdles commonly associated with antibody drug conjugate therapeutics. 

“By developing a highly customisable platform where drug payloads and targets can be altered as needed, the Company is revealing the true potential of ADCs as a cancer cell specific, highly effective therapeutic option for a wide range of cancers.”

Spirea, a spin-out from the University of Cambridge, has previously received investment from IP Group, Cambridge Enterprise, Start Codon, Jonathan Milner, o2h Ventures and Syndicate Room, and is supported by a number of successful, high-profile board members from the life sciences.

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