- Targeting cancer stem cells with highly selective gene therapy
- World-class leadership and scientific team, including Scientific Founder, Prof Steven Pollard
- Supported by SV Health Investors and Cancer Research UK
London, UK 15 September 2020. Cellinta Limited, a new private company focussed on targeting cancer stem cells with highly selective gene therapy, was officially launched today following a successful seed fundraise led by SV Health Investors and joined by Cancer Research UK. The investment will be used to build a pipeline of therapies in various cancer indications.
Cellinta was founded in 2019 and has recently entered a Collaborative Research and Option to License Agreement with the University of Edinburgh (UoE). This secures Cellinta an option to license intellectual property from UoE developed in the laboratory of Prof Steven Pollard, Professor of Stem Cell & Cancer Biology within the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and CRUK Edinburgh Centre at UoE.
Cellinta is backed by a world-class leadership and scientific team, including Prof Steven Pollard as Senior Advisor, and is led by Dr Soraya Bekkali who serves as Chief Executive Officer and Director of its Board. Soraya brings over 20 years’ industry experience with a specific focus in the field of gene therapy.
“I am delighted to be leading such an exciting company,” said Dr. Soraya Bekkali, Chief Executive Officer. “Cellinta’s approach offers the opportunity to deliver combinations of therapies selectively to cancer stem cells, bypassing the limitations of traditional treatments which often target single genes or redundant signalling pathways. Gene therapy is now a clinically validated technology that can be leveraged to overcome some of the drug delivery challenges encountered by past drug candidates, and I look forward to translating the full potential of Cellinta’s platform.
“Cellinta represents a unique opportunity to build a leading company based on exciting and innovative science, with the potential to develop first-in-class therapies,” said Mike Ross, Managing Partner at SV Health Investors and Chairman of Cellinta. “We are delighted with the progress the company has made and extremely pleased to appoint Soraya, who has deep experience in gene therapy across various therapeutic areas, as CEO. We look forward supporting Cellinta in its progress as a pioneer in the field.”
“We’re delighted to have worked with SV Health Investors and world-class Cancer Research UK scientists to help establish Cellinta,” said Phil Masterson, Head of Cancer Research UK’s New Ventures team. “This exciting development has enabled us to leverage seed financing from a leading venture company alongside Cancer Research UK to help establish a company that has the potential to bring real impact to cancer patients starting by those suffering from solid tumours with high unmet need.”
Soraya Bekkali joined Cellinta as CEO in July 2020. She is a board-certified MD graduated from Paris University with 20 years of experience in drug development and business strategy with a focus on gene therapy. She was previously CEO and Director of the Board of Gyroscope Therapeutics, a Syncona backed company based in the UK developing genetically defined therapies for ocular diseases such as dry age-related macular degeneration. During her tenure at Gyroscope she led the organisation towards clinical stage, series B plans and ultimately to the merger with a US based company Orbit Medical commercialising surgical device for subretinal drug delivery. Prior to that she was SVP CMO at Lysogene, a Boston-Paris biotech developing gene therapy for rare CNS disorders where she contributed to the successful listing of the company on the European Stock Exchange Euronext. Her extensive experience encompasses orphan drug development while at Orphan Europe, and broad industry expertise while at Sanofi where she held increasing leadership positions over a 10-year period.