The Cancer Research Technology Pioneer Fund (CPF or the Fund) announces an additional £20m investor commitment from BACIT Limited (BACIT), taking the total fund to £70m.
The news comes as the fund announces its fifth research investment, expanding its agreement with Chroma Therapeutics Ltd to develop drugs that use immune cells called macrophages – a type of white blood cell – to deliver drugs directly into tumours.
The CPF was established in 2012 by the European Investment Fund and Cancer Research Technology Ltd. It bridges the gap in cancer research between late discovery and Phase II clinical trials. Through its relationship with CRT, the Fund has access to drug discovery and development programmes funded by Cancer Research UK.
Today’s announcement takes the total capital now committed to the Fund to £70m which will allow the CPF to invest in a larger portfolio of cancer research projects and have the potential to develop existing projects further.
Today’s announcement includes an expansion of the license from Chroma to the CPF for all rights in oncology to its Esterase Sensitive Motif (ESM) technology*.
The ESM technology incorporates specific chemical motifs – such as cancer drugs – into active compounds, which are freely transported into cells. Once inside the cell, a specific enzyme found only in certain type of macrophage targeted at tumours, removes the motifs to create a compound that cannot easily exit the cell. Over time, the compound selectively accumulates in the macrophages to significant levels and it becomes active in fighting cancer cells.
Dr Robert James, managing partner of Sixth Element Capital, said: “We’re very excited to welcome BACIT as an additional investor. This enables us to create an even more diversified portfolio of novel world-class cancer therapeutics.
“The expansion of the Chroma agreement enables CPF to develop a portfolio of projects that modulate the immune system. Immunotherapy is an extremely exciting area in cancer research. Developing small molecules which activate the immune system to fight cancer could be of great importance to cancer patients.”
Richard Bungay, chief executive of Chroma, said: “It is now widely accepted that modulation of a patients’ own immune system will be an important tool in the fight against cancer. Consequently, we are very pleased to have expanded our collaboration with CPF, which will facilitate further significant investment in our portfolio of novel immunotherapy treatments, and potentially expand the disease targets that the ESM macrophage-targeting technology is applied to.”
Dr Piyush Unalkat, Principal – Equity Investments, commented: "I’m extremely pleased to see BACIT formalising its investment to CPF, bringing the fund to £70m. BACIT, CRT and EIF are long-term investors aligned in their mission to catalyse the development of new therapies to fight cancer, of which the ESM technology is a good example. The CPF is a cost efficient model and the additional resources shall allow for more investments than were originally foreseen."
Dr Keith Blundy, CEO of Cancer Research Technology, said: “BACIT’s investment in the CPF is warmly welcomed and will help us further accelerate drug discovery research to bring potential new treatments to patients sooner. Immunotherapy research is looking increasingly promising for the treatment of cancer, so I am delighted to see the progress that the CPF is making in attracting new investment to help bridge the UK’s innovation gap in this important area.”
For media enquiries please contact Ailsa Stevens 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours on 07050 264 059.