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Cambridge start-up secures £40 million to trial innovative cancer drugs

Published on 16/06/17 at 09:29am

Bicycle Therapeutics, a biotech start-up based in Cambridge, UK, has just raised £40 million from a range of investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC) in order to push its cancer drug candidates through to the clinical trial stage.

The firm previously secured a deal worth up to $1 billion with AstraZeneca back in December last year to identify and develop potential drug targets.

Bicycle Therapeutics develops ‘bicycles’ – small chemically-constrained protein chains or peptides which are named for their resemblance to a bicycle wheel. These drugs aim to bring together the best qualities of both small molecule and antibody-based treatments, giving them a high binding capacity and specificity while allowing them to penetrate tissue such as solid tumours. They have also been engineered to be cleared from the body by the kidneys, reducing the risk of potential side-effects while maintaining efficiency.

“I am delighted that Bicycle Therapeutics has secured this new funding to enable the team to move multiple programmes into the clinic,” said Bicycle’s Professor Greg Winter. “Bicycles are different from both antibodies and small molecules, with some of the benefits of each, giving them the potential to deliver an exciting new class of therapeutics across different diseases.”

The company’s key offering, a bicycle drug conjugate known as BT1718, is designed to destroy cancer cells by targeting Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MTP), a cell surface protein which is prevalent in solid malignant tumours. The candidate is of particular interest because it could provide alternative treatment in cancer areas where options are limited, such as in triple-negative breast cancer and non-small cell lung cancer.

“This financing represents an important validation of our approach, while providing Bicycle Therapeutics with the resources to continue to turn our bicyclic peptide technology into important new treatment options for patients,” Bicycle Therapeutics’ CEO DR Kevin Lee remarked. “We are grateful for the strong support from our investors as we move BT1718 rapidly towards the clinic and continue to advance our other preclinical programmes that have the potential to treat cancer and other debilitating diseases.”

Dr Michael Anstey, Investment Director at CIC added: “The pre-clinical studies to date show Bicycles have many of the attributes needed to be an effective medical treatment. The next big step is to take this into humans and if they show the same characteristics this will be very exciting. Bicycle Therapeutics is an ambitious company, with a world-class team, that has all the ingredients for another Cambridge success story.”

Off the back of this cash injection, BT1718 is expected to enter clinical trials this year as part of a partnership with Cancer Research UK.

Matt Fellows

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