Myricx Pharma, a drug discovery company spun-out from Imperial College London and the Francis Crick Institute launches today, announcing it has secured an initial £4.5 million seed financing.*
Myricx is founded on 15 years of world-leading research on N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) and breakthrough discoveries related to its inhibition in cancer.
NMT is an enzyme involved in the modification of certain proteins, a process that is part of many disease pathways, including in cancer and viral infection. The company will develop potent small-molecule inhibitors that selectively target NMT in cancer with the aim of building a pipeline of new targeted cancer therapies.**
Over the past five years, a team of researchers, led by Ed Tate, a chemist from Imperial College London with a satellite group at the Crick, and Dinis Calado, who leads the Crick’s Immunity and Cancer Laboratory, have been studying pathways that support B cell lymphoma growth, and finding new ways to block them.
Together with support from the platforms and facilities at the Crick, the team found that blocking NMT can kill cancerous cells driven by the gene MYC. MYC plays a role in a number of hard-to-treat cancers and directly targeting the gene has been a challenge - until now, it was thought to be undruggable.
In 2019, they won the Crick’s Sir David Cooksey Prize in Translation, in recognition of their progress toward the development of novel drug candidates.
Ed Tate, Myricx Co-founder and CSO, and group leader at the Crick and Imperial College
said: “This funding will enable us to advance our breakthrough discoveries and brings us a step closer to fulfilling our vision of unlocking the potential of NMT as a therapeutic target and developing precision medicines for cancer.”
Roberto Solari, Co-founder and CEO of Myricx Pharma said: “Thanks to a supportive government environment, the UK is an outstanding place for life science research and biotech commercialisation. Raising £4.5 million in seed funding is a testament to our breakthrough discoveries and promising future.”
Veronique Birault, Director of Translation at the Francis Crick Institute said: “The Crick was established with a goal of being a major multidisciplinary institute for biomedical research where discoveries are translated into real-world benefits for health and the economy.
“This oncology application highlights what can be achieved by embedding university groups in the Crick. Collaboration has ensured this research benefits from the expertise of different disciplines, accelerating translation. What a fantastic accomplishment for the Myricx team who have attracted investment to progress the pre-clinical assets towards first in human studies!”
The Company anticipates advancing its compounds to preclinical development in the near future and will build out its R&D team with medicinal chemistry and clinical development experience.
*£4.5 million in seed financing is from Sofinnova Partners, a leading European life sciences venture capital firm based in Paris, London and Milan, and Brandon Capital Partners, Australia’s leading life science venture investor for seed and early stage companies.
**Myricx has the rights to key NMT discoveries, and composition-of-matter and use patents of its scientific co-founders through exclusive license agreements with Imperial College London.