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13 July, 2018 - 12:28 By Tony Quested

Bicycle Therapeutics ahead of the curve in fight against cancer

Sir Greg Winter Master of Trinity College Cambridge

There’s a delicious slogan on the website home page of Cambridge cancer crusader Bicycle Therapeutics: “We didn’t wait for the next advance against cancer. We Created It.”

The uninitiated might be deceived into dismissing this as simply a clever piece of marketing. Those who know the business, its roots and its people, however, would confirm that even in a Cambridge pantheon of pioneers, ‘killers’ and trailblazers, Bicycle Therapeutics is a genuine game-changer.

The company was founded in 2009 based on innovative science conducted in the laboratory of the globally respected Professor Sir Greg Winter, a pioneer in monoclonal antibodies, to translate first-in-class Bicycles into transformative medicines for life-altering diseases. 

The venture has become a transatlantic company, with headquarters in Cambridge UK and many key functions and members of the leadership team located in the biotech hub of Boston, Mass.

The company also has continuity, with Sir Greg a member of the newly-formed and eye-catching Scientific Advisory Board. Its proprietary bicyclic peptide (Bicycle®) product platform has unsurprisingly captured global attention from Big Pharma and cancer practitioners alike, all genuinely excited by the potential for this critical cancer technology.

Validation of the calibre of the company and its technology is not hard to find. In May, for example, Bicycle Therapeutics expanded its collaboration with AstraZeneca to include additional targets in respiratory and cardio-metabolic diseases.

The original collaboration was signed in late 2016 and with the expansion has a potential value in excess of $1 billion. Under the terms of the collaboration Bicycle is responsible for identifying Bicycles® for an undisclosed number of respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic disease targets specified by AstraZeneca, while AstraZeneca is responsible for further development and product commercialisation. The expansion provides additional disease targets and triggers an undisclosed milestone payment to Bicycle.

Kevin Lee, chief executive officer of Bicycle Therapeutics, noted: “This valuable collaboration increases our ability to explore and deliver on the therapeutic potential of Bicycles outside oncology, our core area of focus. AstraZeneca’s decision to expand our alliance further validates the important work we have achieved together, based on the power and versatility of the Bicycle platform.”

Equally enthused was Menelas Pangalos, executive vice-president, Innovative Medicines and Early Development Biotech Unit at AstraZeneca.

He said: “Our collaboration with Bicycle continues to be highly productive. By expanding our work into new target and indication spaces, we continue to test the platform with the aim of bringing innovative new therapies to patients.”

Also in May, Bicycle announced the receipt of a milestone payment in connection with the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical study evaluating THR-149, under its ophthalmology alliance with quoted Belgian company ThromboGenics NV, a biopharma business focused on developing treatments for vitreo-retinal disorders.

THR-149 is a novel plasma kallikrein inhibitor identified and optimiaed by the Bicycle technology platform. The open-label, multicentre, dose escalation study will evaluate the safety of intravitreally administered THR-149 for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME). Initial study results are anticipated in mid-2019.

Bicycle Therapeutics also announced the expansion of the alliance, which aims to identify and optimise additional Bicycles for the treatment of ophthalmic diseases.

Kevin Lee explained: “As the second Bicycle in the clinic, THR-149 will enable us to further evaluate the tremendous potential for Bicycles to treat significant human diseases with unmet need. 

“Our decision to expand our alliance is a testament to both the highly collaborative nature of the relationship and our ability to develop novel Bicycles as therapeutics for patients with ophthalmic diseases. We are excited to continue our work with ThromboGenics to develop innovative therapeutics.”

Now it’s onwards and upwards for Bicycle Therapeutics with a terrific SAB now in place; members include experts in oncology, immunology, and drug discovery and development.

The SAB will work closely with Bicycle’s senior management team to advance the company’s pipeline of Bicycles for the treatment of cancer and other difficult-to-treat diseases.

Lee says: The scientific guidance of this group of experts will be invaluable as we develop this novel class of therapies for diseases where existing treatment options are limited.”

Sir Greg Winter adds: “Bicycle is developing an exciting new class of small molecule medicines for cancer and other serious diseases that promise to be more selective, more potent and less toxic than any other existing modality. “I am delighted to continue to help guide the company, together with this tremendously accomplished group of scientific leaders, as it continues to advance its robust pipeline of Bicycle product candidates.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Sir Greg Winter

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