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Grey Wolf secures £10m Series A to ‘illuminate’ tumour cells

The tech could offer a new treatment paradigm

Grey Wolf

UK biotech start-up Grey Wolf has secured £10m ($14m) in a Series A financing round to further develop a novel immuno-oncology approach.

The company's method involves modifying a tumour cells’ visibility – a key determinant of whether a particular cancer will respond - so they are highlighted for destruction by the immune system.

The tech does this by homing in on the aminopeptidase Endoplasmic Reticulum Associated Protease 1 (ERAP1), a key protein that allows the modification of the neoantigen and antigen repertoire on tumour cells.

Peter Joyce

CEO and co-founder Peter Joyce

The company, which was founded by ex-Vertex exec Peter Joyce and Spinifex Pharmaceuticals' former CEO Tom McCarthy, says the science behind the tech is backed up by genome-wide studies, which validate ERAP1’s role in antigen modulation in disease and potential overexpression in certain tumour types.

The approach, which can be used in combination with other immunotherapies that are already on the market, has also been tested in syngeneic mouse-based tumour models, which also demonstrates ERAP1’s immune-mediated anti-tumourogenic effect.

Armed with this new, small-molecule based approach, Grey Wolf aims to be at the forefront of a new wave of oncology therapies that will address a tumour visibility problem that’s evident in many cancers.

Neoantigen-presenting tumours are particularly sensitive to checkpoint inhibitors - which are widely used across the cancer treatment pathway - as they are more likely to be recognised as ‘foreign’.

However, the majority of cancers carry low neoantigen expression, meaning they are non-responsive to immunotherapy.

“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,” said Joyce.

He confirms that the company hopes to deliver a clinical candidate within the next three years, and thanks to its recent funding from venture capital firms Andera Partners and Canaan, it is well-positioned to achieve that goal.

Thierry Hercend, Venture Partner at Andera Partners, said: “Grey Wolf has identified a highly innovative approach to immuno-oncology and, in Peter and Tom, has founders with very strong scientific and entrepreneurial credentials.

“They achieved a significant amount with their seed funding and demonstrated a scientifically rigorous and nimble approach to drug development which we value. I’m confident that with this series A financing, Grey Wolf will deliver on the full potential of ERAP modulation.”

Meanwhile, the investment in UK-biotech is a first for Canann, which said it is “excited by the company’s science” and it’s potential in the current oncology treatment landscape.

Article by
Gemma Jones

11th February 2019

From: Research, Sales



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