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BACIT Limited makes first investment in ICR drug development programme

24 September 2013 


The Institute of Cancer Research is pleased to announce that BACIT Limited, an innovative investment company with a financial model designed to help fund the battle against cancer has invested in its first drug development project – a consortium financing development of a drug for lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancer.

BACIT Ltd has today (Tuesday) entered into arrangements with the Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund (CPF) and drug discovery company Sareum Limited to co-fund the further development of a type of drug to target a protein called CHK1.

The consortium’s investment should accelerate progress of the research programme, much of it conducted at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and fund development of a promising drug candidate that could enter clinical trials by the end of next year.

CHK1 inhibitors are a class of cancer drugs that block a key molecule called CHK1 involved in responding to DNA damage. A drug blocking CHK1 could boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which work by causing DNA damage. It could also potentially treat certain cancer types thought to be dependent on this target for survival when dosed alone.

The candidate inhibitor originates from research in the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit at the ICR, by scientists funded by Cancer Research UK working alongside Sareum’s researchers, and in collaboration with Cancer Research Technology (CRT).

The developers of the programme hope the candidate CHK1 inhibitor could prove active against a range of cancers including pancreatic, bowel and non-small cell lung cancer. It is expected that the drug candidate will be taken into clinical development at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust by the end of next year.

The rights to the preclinical programme have been licensed into CPF from CRT and the ICR. Under the terms of the deal, CPF obtains worldwide rights to the preclinical CHK1 inhibitor programme and is responsible, for future development and commercialisation, funded by CPF, BACIT and Sareum. CRT and the originating research partners, Sareum and the ICR, are entitled to an up-front fee plus success milestone and royalty payments. Financial terms of the licence are not disclosed.

Tom Henderson of BACIT, said: “This collaboration marks BACIT’s first investment in a drug development project, and we’re delighted to be involved in such an exciting programme with the potential to deliver benefits for patients with many different types of cancer.”

Professor Paul Workman, Deputy Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “We’re delighted to be working with this innovative and powerful consortium to accelerate progress on the CHK1 inhibitor programme. The support of BACIT has been particularly welcome and this type of funding is absolutely essential if we are to deliver benefits from new molecularly targeted cancer drugs to patients.

“Our CHK1 inhibitor has exciting potential both as a cancer treatment in its own right and also as a drug to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. All the partners are eager to expedite the drug candidate into clinical trials as quickly as possible because of the potential to treat large numbers of cancer patients with this approach.”

Ian Miscampbell, managing partner of Sixth Element Capital, the Manager of CPF, said: “This is the third investment made by the £50M CPF which CRT and the European Investment Fund launched in 2012 to bridge the UK funding gap between cancer drug discovery and early treatment development.

“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with BACIT and Sareum to fund this exciting development programme at the ICR. This kind of funding collaboration will ensure that we can maximise the amount of money which can be committed through the CPF to develop new cancer therapies.”

Dr Tim Mitchell, CEO of Sareum, said: “The funding which we are announcing today will enable the project to move swiftly towards, and potentially into Phase I clinical trials, the successful outcome of which should pave the way for the further development and commercialisation of a novel and broadly applicable cancer treatment.”

Dr Keith Blundy, chief executive of Cancer Research Technology, said: “We’re delighted that this investment will bridge the gap to develop a promising molecule so that it can be taken into clinical trials to give to patients – a huge step on the way to providing new options for patients and one that may have been delayed for years without the vital injection of cash and resources provided through the CRT Pioneer Fund.”

Notes to Editors

For more information contact the ICR press office on 020 7153 5312 / [email protected]. For enquiries out of hours, please contact Claire Bithell, ICR’s Head of Media Relations, on 07969 082 520.

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