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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
17 December, 2020 - 09:44 By Tony Quested

Funders back Spirea’s novel payload flexibility for cancer therapeutics

Cambridge University spin-out Spirea – founded to deliver nextgen antibody drug conjugate (ADC) cancer therapeutics – has secured unspecified funding from lead o2h Ventures and SyndicateRoom.

The investment will be used to enable Spirea’s ADC therapeutic programmes ahead of a significant seed financing anticipated in 2021. 

The UK business also announces the successful in vivo validation of the platform in proof-of-concept studies using a cancer xenograft model; a xenograft is a tissue graft or organ transplant from a donor of a different species from the recipient.

ADC drugs combine the cell killing activity of a cytotoxic drug payload with the targeting ability of an antibody. However, toxic side-effects, limited flexibility, and the resulting limitations in the range of cancers that can be treated have restricted the field and caused many clinical programmes to stall. 

Spirea’s technology overcomes these issues by offering high drug-to-antibody ratio and a design flexibility which enables the development of differentiated ADCs with improved efficacy and safety. 

Because the technology allows more drug to be loaded onto the targeting antibody whilst maintaining drug stability, payloads can also be customised to the target, enabling flexibility in payload potencies, creative drug combinations and novel modes of action to serve a wider patient group.

Dr Myriam Ouberai, CEO of Spirea, said: “We have now demonstrated that our ADC technology performs extremely well in vivo. The funding and support from o2h Ventures and Syndicate Room serve as an endorsement of our approach and will allow us to start building a pipeline of exciting therapeutic products based on our validated technology.”

Sunil Shah, CEO at o2h Ventures, added: “Spirea’s potentially transformative approach to addressing the common obstacles faced in ADC development has the potential to disrupt this field entirely, placing the company in a unique position to address a very significant market opportunity. This is an exciting time for Spirea and we are pleased to be supporting them.”

Spirea has previously received investment from Jonathan Milner, Start Codon, Innovate UK, IP Group and Cambridge Enterprise and is supported by a number of successful, high-profile board members from the life sciences. They include Jane Dancer (former chief business officer at F-star), Gaynor Fryers (former VP of business development at AstraZeneca) and Christine Martin (deputy head of seed funds at Cambridge Enterprise).

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