£1 million for Cambridge small molecule cancer research
Cambridge biotech innovator PhoreMost and its spinout company NeoPhore have been awarded £1 million of funding to help create a novel small-molecule cancer immunotherapy programme.
The funding is in the form of a Biomedical Catalyst grant from an Innovate UK competition.
The companies’ plan proposes to develop small-molecule drugs that will stimulate cancer immunity by leveraging well-validated genetic mechanisms. The strategy is central to NeoPhore’s approach to spark “dynamic neoantigen evolution” by targeting DNA mismatch repair to induce neoantigen creation in poorly immunogenic tumours.
NeoPhore and PhoreMost are both headquartered in Cambridge; NeoPhore was formed as a PhoreMost spin-out following investment of £3 million from Sixth Element Capital.
Following on from NeoPhore’s appointment of a prestigious Scientific Advisory Board and publication of research by the company’s founders in the journal Nature, the award by Innovate UK recognises inventive and impactful approaches with a high potential for commercial success.
The companies will use the funding to further develop and optimise small-molecule inhibitors into promising oral drug candidates with an aim to progress the new treatment into the clinic.
NeoPhore may invest additional financing to further progress the programmes or pursue development via commercial partnerships given that its therapeutic strategy is designed to substantially augment and widen the effectiveness of existing checkpoint inhibitor and related cancer immunotherapies being developed by other biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
PhoreMost CEO Chris Torrance said: “We are very pleased to have the support of Innovate UK on another of PhoreMost’s first-in-class projects. Their funding has been critical to enabling PhoreMost to grow from a conceptual startup into an established novel target and drug discovery platform company.
“This award provides another instance where Innovate UK has been instrumental in fostering early-stage, differentiated R & D programmes and look forward to continuing our relationship with Innovate UK to provide impactful, novel treatments to patients.”
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Chris Torrance