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20 August, 2020 - 17:46 By Tony Quested

Cambridge University alumnus takes key role as Bicycle picks up speed

Cambridge University alumnus Dr Dominic Smethurst has been appointed as chief medical officer of Bicycle Therapeutics as the life science company continues to blaze a trail on NASDAQ – the US technology market.

He earned an MBChB with Distinction from Addenbrooke’s Clinical School Cambridge as well as an MA from Christ’s College Cambridge.

Dr Smethurst brings to Bicycle extensive expertise in developing bispecific immuno-oncology agents, as well as toxin conjugate therapeutics for cancer and other serious diseases.

He joins as the business celebrates an increase in its stock value on NASDAQ and launches a golden era for its proprietary bicyclic peptide (Bicycle®) technology, designed to fight cancer and other severe medical conditions.

CEO Kevin Lee believes the hire is highly significant. “Given his in-depth knowledge of conventional and disruptive therapeutic modalities, we believe Dominic is uniquely qualified to guide development of Bicycles as potential solutions to many of the limitations faced by small molecule and antibody-based medicines,” he said. 

“Dominic will be responsible for designing and driving execution of the clinical development plans for our pipeline candidates, all of which currently represent possible first-in-class or best-in-class therapies. Dominic adds a critical capability to our senior leadership team.”

Dr Smethurst says Bicycle’s innovative technology “could lead to potentially game-changing new treatments for diseases where existing medicines are inadequate.”

He said: “Joining the company presents me with an unparalleled opportunity to advance therapeutic candidates that could potentially shift the treatment paradigm for patients suffering from a wide range of severe medical conditions.”

Dr Smethurst has over 20 years of experience working with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, clinical research institutions, and the UK’s National Health Service. 

He was most recently a medical consultant, advising biopharma companies on clinical development strategies and licensing projects. Prior to that, he served as chief medical officer of Tusk Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company acquired by Roche, where he oversaw development of antibodies targeting CD25 and CD137, among others. 

Previously, as VP Oncology and Global Therapeutic Area Lead at Icon, a global contract research organisation, he executed clinical trials involving numerous novel cancer treatments, including CAR-T therapies. 

Prior to that, Dr Smethurst held physician leadership roles at AstraZeneca, Amgen and Adaptimmune.

Bicycle recently posted its Q2 2020 results which showed that heavier investment in research and expansion had nudged up losses but that the business was cash rich with massive pipeline potential.

Cash was $96.9 million at June 30, which excludes $17.6m net proceeds from the ATM offering program and a $6.7m UK R & D tax credit – both received in July.

Net loss was $12.1m compared to $10.2m for the three months ended June 30, 2019.

Kevin Lee said: “Despite the challenges presented by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have made significant progress towards achieving our 2020 objectives. 

“In the coming months, we look forward to initiating the Phase IIa trial of BT1718 and the Phase I/II trial of BT8009. We are also continuing to advance BT5528 in the dose escalation portion of a Phase I/II trial, and we will be deploying our proprietary EphA2 immunohistochemistry, or IHC, assay to select and enroll EphA2-positive patients in the Phase I trial. 

“We remain confident in our ability to achieve our near-term milestones, which should help enable our vision of pioneering the development of novel therapies for patients suffering from cancer and other serious diseases.”

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