The £2 million collaborative project will aim to build a versatile platform to facilitate the discovery and development of targeted oncology therapeutics
Almac Discovery, a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and identifying innovative therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and Elasmogen, an SME focused on the development of next generation biologics, have been awarded a grant from Innovate UK through its Innovation in Health and Life Sciences funding programme.
The £2 million peer reviewed collaborative project entitled ‘A Technology Platform for Next Generation VNAR based Oncology Medicines’, plans to utilise the highly selective, high affinity and yet low molecular weight non-antibody VNAR protein scaffold and build a versatile platform to facilitate the discovery and development of targeted oncology therapeutics.
The VNAR structure allows ready access for protein engineering of multiple formats. These VNAR formats can be optimised, with or without conjugation of a cytotoxic payload, with further conversion to soloMER format, to become a first-in-class or best-in-class targeted therapeutic.
The 2 year project optimises both target binding and selectivity, via the identification of novel epitopes and formats, approaches to linker design and payload attachments, and further builds upon the experimental data supporting the unique attributes of VNARs.
Almac first entered into an agreement with Elasmogen for the treatment of solid tumours in 2015. This new joint research programme broadens the collaborative work by combining Almac Discovery's expertise in protein engineering and oncology drug discovery with Elasmogen's expertise in the generation, screening and formatting of VNAR proteins.
Stephen Barr, President & Managing Director, Almac Discovery, said: “We are delighted to have secured this highly sought after funding from Innovate UK to support this novel field of research which is testament to the novelty of the proposed approach and the quality of the underlying technologies involved. It is heartening to be able to continue and also broaden our successful collaboration with Elasmogen so that we may remain at the forefront of oncology discovery and ultimately benefit patients.”
“Given the devastating and wide-ranging impact of cancer on the lives of so many people, there is a continual need to bring new innovative therapies into the clinic” said Caroline Barelle, CEO, Elasmogen. “I have no doubt that by combining the oncology expertise of Almac with the advantages of our soloMER platform that we can deliver a new class of drugs to patients.”
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency working with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.
Future research of next generation VNAR-based oncology medicines, as a result of this investment, will be co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovation UK, Elasmogen and Almac Group.