BioMoti, Pharmidex and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have been awarded a grant of £662,222 by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. The grant was awarded under the Biomedical Catalyst funding competition to support preclinical studies of new therapeutic approaches for hard-to-treat tumours including advanced ovarian, triple negative breast and pancreatic cancers. The project is co-funded by a further £226,769 investment from the industrial partners BioMoti and Pharmidex.
The project focuses on BioMoti’s innovative approach, Oncojan™, a sustained release precision therapeutics platform targeting CD95L mediated tumour immune evasion. Pharmidex’s knowledge of preclinical drug development and QMUL’s pathology expertise in mechanisms of disease complete the project consortium. This two-year programme will investigate precision delivery of drugs to solid tumour sites and immune system activation due to CD95L targeting of tumours.
CD95L is a surface ligand that is selectively and heavily over-expressed in tumour vasculature and cancer cells but not healthy tissues. CD95L promotes tumour immune evasion, cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. It is an essential gene for cancer survival and promotes cancer stem cells. High levels of CD95L expression in patient tumours are associated with increased malignancy and poor prognosis. Oncojans™ are a new class of therapeutic particles that target and gain entry to the tumour vasculature and cancer cells. Once inside CD95L+ve tumour cells, Oncojans™ slowly release therapeutic drugs at the point of need whilst sparing healthy tissue.
Dr Davidson Ateh, CEO of BioMoti, said: ‘Precise oncology drugs, and especially those that can activate the immune system, are rapidly emerging with major clinical trial successes registered for both antibody and cell-based approaches such as Merck’s Keytruda® or Novartis’s Kymriah™. It is exciting for us to be supported by Innovate UK to explore our platform’s interactions with the immune system following promising efficacy data in cancer models. BioMoti is making great progress on a final seed investment round to support commercialisation and we welcome enquiries from qualified investors.’
Dr Chris Ireson, Head of Oncology at Pharmidex, said: ‘We are very pleased to join BioMoti and QMUL in the preclinical development of the Oncojan™ platform. This Innovate UK funded project is an exciting approach to cancer therapy that could have a significant impact on patient lives.’
Dr Mohammad Alavijeh, CEO of Pharmidex, said: ‘Partnering on this Biomedical Catalyst award is a great achievement for the Pharmidex oncology research team. This recently established group adds to our well established expertise in ADMET, PK, bioanalysis and CNS.’
Professor Joanne Martin, Professor of Pathology at QMUL, added: ‘Oncojans™ were first developed in my laboratory here at Queen Mary University of London with support from the BBSRC, Heptagon Fund and Barts and The London Charity. We are passionate about what a difference we could make for patients, and it is great to have secured Innovate UK funding.’