UK biotech Grey Wolf Therapeutics has completed a £10 million series A financing round spearheaded by international healthcare investors Andera Partners and Canaan.
Grey Wolf’s novel approach is aimed at directly altering tumour cells, illuminating them for attack and destruction by the immune system.
The goal is to exploit this increased tumour visibility in monotherapy and to extend the therapeutic benefit of already approved immunotherapies to many more cancers.
The company is developing small molecule modulators of endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidases (ERAPs), key proteins in the antigen presentation pathway, to change the neoantigen repertoire in tumours and thereby increase the number and range of neoantigens presented on tumour cells available to engage an immune response.
This unique small molecule immuno-oncology approach builds on the exciting recent advances in cancer immunotherapies that address a key limiting factor for approved treatments, while avoiding the complex and costly personalisation required for other approaches such as neoantigen vaccines.
Grey Wolf has programs targeting the two homologues of ERAP, ERAP1 and ERAP2, aimed at developing potent and selective modulators, with the lead program being against ERAP1.
Grey Wolf was co-founded by Peter Joyce, former Project Leader at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Tom McCarthy, former President and CEO of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, and comprises a team of experts in immuno-oncology, antigen presentation and drug discovery.
It is working with the University of Oxford, University of Southampton and has a strategic partnership with Sygnature Discovery, a leading independent provider of drug discovery resources and expertise. Sygnature is also an investor in the Company.
CEO Peter Joyce said: “The recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy have fundamentally changed the treatment landscape in oncology, but the fact remains that current approaches only target the minority of tumours that are visible to the immune system, whilst the vast majority of cancers do not respond.
“There is strong validation for targeting ERAPs to increase tumour visibility and with these funds we are now positioned to build on our existing work and collaborations to deliver a clinical candidate in the coming two to three years.”
Executive Chairman Tom McCarthy said: “We believe we have a truly novel approach in targeting tumours themselves, rather than direct regulation of the immune system, and I am excited by the opportunity to work with our investors and talented team on the next steps of Grey Wolf’s development.”