Belfast-based drug development company CV6 Therapeutics said it will invest almost £8 million (€9.3 million) in clinical trials and further development work on its first anti-cancer drug.
The funding was raised from a mixture of investors, including £3 million from Invest NI through a Grant for Research & Development, and the remainder from firms including Qubis, Techstart and Clarendon.
“Raising funding for research like this is challenging. We are grateful for the continued support of Invest NI and our investors,” said Dr Robert Ladner, CEO of CV6.
The drug, CV6-168, is set to enter early stage clinical trials, an important milestone for the company. It will also lead to four new cancer research jobs at CV6, expanding the current six-strong workforce.
“CV6-168 has the potential to be a widely impactful oncology product, significantly improving outcomes for patients in multiple cancer types,” said Dr Ladner.
“Pre-clinical studies show that CV6-168 works alongside standard cancer therapies to activate a unique mechanism of action that induces cancer cell DNA damage and cell death while simultaneously activating the immune system to further enhance its anticancer effect.”
The Phase 1a trial will focus on safety, and measure how the drug is absorbed by the body to help identifying optimal dosing levels and gathering initial indications of anti-cancer efficacy. Further scientific research will be carried out with Queen’s, with clinical trial sites in the UK, including the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust through the Belfast Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre.
CV6 Therapeutics relocated to Northern Ireland from the USA in 2015. Based at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research, it is focused on improving the lives of patients with cancer and inflammatory diseases through the development of innovative therapeutics.
The Invest Northern Ireland funding is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014–2020.
“We supported the initial phase of CV6′s research, carried out by CV6 at Queen’s, to develop this new cancer drug. The clinical trials stage is a significant step for the company and the project. This is one of the first Northern Ireland developed drugs to be trialled here and will significantly boost the regions credibility and visibility in cancer drug development,” said Mel Chittock, interim chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland said.
“This is a large scale strategic and highly innovative R&D investment. Funding a project of this calibre, scale and nature allows Northern Ireland to further develop its life sciences ecosystem to continue to attract leading science, technology and entrepreneurs”.