- Start-up from Imperial College London and the Francis Crick Institute brings together 15 years of world-leading research on N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) and breakthrough discoveries related to its inhibition in cancer
- Initial financing of £4.5M from venture capital syndicate of experienced life sciences investors, Sofinnova Partners and Brandon Capital Partners
- Led by a team of world-class scientists and drug developers with a track record of big pharma/biotech and academic successes
Stevenage, UK, November 16, 2020 – Myricx Pharma (‘Myricx’), a drug discovery company focused on developing small molecule inhibitors that selectively target the human N-myristoyltransferases (NMT) in cancer, today unveiled an initial £4.5 million in seed financing from experienced venture investors, Sofinnova Partners and Brandon Capital Partners.
Myricx is a start-up from the UK’s leading biomedical research organisations, Imperial College London and the Francis Crick Institute. The Company is based on over 15 years of world-leading NMT biology and chemistry research from the laboratories of its co-founders, Professor Ed Tate, Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Andrew Bell, Chemistry Consultant, and Dr Roberto Solari, Chief Executive Officer. 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.
The Company is pursuing NMT inhibition in a variety of indications with an initial focus in oncology exploiting novel breakthrough discoveries that identified that inhibition of NMT results in specific cancer cell killing via an unexpected and unique mechanism. Myricx has discovered that its NMT inhibitors are proving to be highly effective in the treatment of MYC-driven cancer models. Until now MYC was considered to be undruggable.
Prof Tate said: “The funding will enable us to advance our breakthrough discoveries in cancer and brings us a step closer to fulfilling our vision of unlocking the potential of N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) as a therapeutic target. It also allows us to develop precision medicines for a range of diseases with unmet medical need.”
Dr Solari added: “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. Brandon Capital’s and Sofinnova Partners’ expertise in growing early stage innovative companies will be of immense value to us and we will benefit from their support and experience.”
Protein myristoylation is crucial for several cellular pathways. Through its systems biology approaches, Myricx has unique insights into the mode of action of NMT inhibitors. Its deep chemistry expertise has identified many novel molecules with exceptionally high potency, selectivity, and attractive drug-like properties. With its initial investment it is prioritising the development of its lead small-molecule inhibitors to build a proprietary pipeline of targeted cancer therapies.
Professor Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise) at Imperial, said: “With a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, Imperial is one of the world’s best and most innovative universities due not only to the quality of our basic research but also our translation and commercialisation. The formation of Myricx represents the culmination of years of research drawing on funding from multiple UK and European funding sources and charities, paired with specialist support from the College’s in-house experts in patenting and commercialisation. I warmly congratulate Prof Tate and Dr Solari on their research breakthroughs, and their achievement in attracting venture funding to enable them to make a real-world impact with their research.”
Dr 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. Myricx highlights what can be achieved by embedding university groups in the Crick. Collaboration between Prof Tate’s chemistry laboratory and Dr Dinis Calado’s Immunity and Cancer Laboratory at the Crick has ensured this research benefits from the expertise of different disciplines, accelerating translation. What a fantastic accomplishment from Prof Tate and Dr Solari who have attracted investment to progress the preclinical assets towards first-in-human studies.”
The Myricx co-founders and management team have an outstanding track record in innovative drug discovery and development in pharma and biotech. Prof Tate is an internationally renowned expert in the field of myristoylation and many other protein modification processes. Dr Solari was one of the co-founders of successful UK biotech company, Astex Therapeutics, involved with the founding of Heptares and had a distinguished career at GSK. Dr Bell is one of the world’s leading medicinal chemists, being a co-inventor of Viagra and a contributor to the development of Voriconazole during his time at Pfizer; together these medicines have generated sales in excess of $40 billion. Dr Robin Carr, Chief Development Officer, has over 30 years’ industry experience and is widely regarded as a leader in innovative drug discovery, having launched drugs within oncology.
Maina Bhaman, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, said: “Myricx has uncovered one of the most promising new areas of biology. Its unique approach to leveraging N-myristoyltransferase (NMT) is pioneering and has the potential to address an untapped target class in humans for the development of precision medicines for cancer and a range of diseases. We look forward to working alongside this outstanding group of innovators, scientists, and investors to realize the full potential of Myricx’s ground-breaking science.”
Dr Stephen Thompson, Managing Partner at Brandon Capital, added: “Dr Solari is a long serving venture partner at our firm. We were excited by the potential of Myricx in a highly exciting field of oncology research and are pleased to back him as CEO and to support the company as it commercialises its world-leading research and discoveries.”
Myricx anticipates advancing its compounds to preclinical and IND enabling development soon and is expanding its R&D team based at the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst facility with medicinal chemistry and clinical development experience.
Notes to Editors:
About Myricx Pharma – www.myricxpharma.com
Myricx Pharma Ltd (“Myricx”) is a small molecule drug discovery company engaged in developing novel proprietary inhibitors of human N-myristoyltransferases (NMT), with a primary focus in oncology but also exploring potential applications across other diseases.
Myricx operates from the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst facility, UK, and was founded in 2019 based on discoveries made at Imperial College London and the Francis Crick Institute by its co-founders Prof Ed Tate, Dr Andrew Bell and Dr Roberto Solari. The Company has raised an initial £4.5million in seed investment from Sofinnova Partners and Brandon Capital Partners. 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.
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Myristoylation is a lipid modification to a specific group of target proteins in a cell. It involves the attachment of myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid, to a protein’s N-terminal glycine residue. This process is catalysed by the ubiquitous eukaryotic enzyme, N-myristoyltransferase (NMT), which uses myristoyl-coenzyme A (CoA) as a substrate.
Myristoylation is an irreversible change to proteins and plays a vital role in protein–protein interactions, targeting proteins to cytoplasmic and plasma membranes, and regulating cellular signalling pathways in several biological processes. It is also known to be involved in a range of diseases including cancer, inflammatory conditions, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.
About Imperial College London – www.imperial.ac.uk
College London is one of the world’s leading universities. The College’s 17,000 students and 8,000 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for our society.
Imperial is the UK’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education, with academic ties to more than 150 countries. Reuters named the College as the UK’s most innovative university because of its exceptional entrepreneurial culture and ties to industry.
About Francis Crick Institute – www.crick.ac.uk
The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.
An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King’s College London.
The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1,500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.
About Sofinnova Partners – www.sofinnovapartners.com
Sofinnova Partners is a leading European venture capital firm specialized in Life Sciences. Based in Paris, France, with offices in London and Milan, the firm brings together a team of over 40 professionals from all over Europe, the U.S. and Asia. The firm focuses on paradigm-shifting technologies alongside visionary entrepreneurs. Sofinnova Partners invests across the Life Sciences value chain as a lead or cornerstone investor, from very early-stage opportunities to late-stage/public companies. It has backed 500 companies over 48 years, creating market leaders around the globe. Today, Sofinnova Partners has over €2 billion under management.
About Brandon Capital Partners – www.brandoncapital.com.au
Brandon Capital Partners is a Life Sciences venture capital firm that manages the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), Australia and New Zealand’s largest life science investment fund. The MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian pension funds, the Australian and New Zealand governments, Australian state governments and more than 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of early-stage biomedical discoveries, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. Brandon Capital has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland and Palo Alto, California.
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At the Company
Dr Roberto Solari, CEO, Myricx Pharma, email@example.com
Sue Charles, Charles Consultants, firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0)7986 726585