Funding to support novel cancer immunotherapy programme

Award of the grant funds expanded operations and recognises innovative drug discovery programme

NeoPhore, a cancer immuno-oncology company and PhoreMost, will receive £1 million of funding following the award of a Biomedical Catalyst grant in a recent Innovate UK competition.

The companies are partners on a grant titled, “A novel small molecule approach to enhance cancer immunotherapy”. Their research plan proposes to develop small-molecule drugs that will stimulate cancer immunity by leveraging well-validated genetic mechanisms.

Chris Torrance, CEO of PhoreMost, 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 start-up 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.”

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 tumors.

NeoPhore and PhoreMost are both headquartered in Cambridge UK, and 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 may pursue development via commercial partnerships given that he company’s 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.

Jeff Roix, CEO of NeoPhore, said: “We created NeoPhore to accelerate development of a totally new approach for cancer immunotherapy and welcome the support of the Innovate UK award to recognise and promote that business objective. The competitive review highlights again how our disruptive therapeutic approach is supported by a well-established body of clinical and laboratory genetic evidence."

“The funding provides a catalyst to our development plan, which aims to create the first in a new class of immunotherapy drugs and to translate that therapeutic concept closer to clinical application.”

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