The funding will support Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who are designing the drugs, to treat patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma – a sub-type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
The CRT Pioneer Fund was launched in 2012 by CRT, the commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK, and the European Investment Fund (EIF) in 2012 to bridge the funding gap between cancer drug discovery and early drug development. It is managed by Sixth Element Capital LLP and has received additional investment from investment company BACIT Limited.
The drugs will target a protein called B-Cell Lymphoma 6 (BCL6). It plays an important role in maintaining levels of antibody-secreting B-cells in the blood, and is an essential part of the body’s immune defences. Research shows that BCL6 is overactive in patients with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma and that this helps drive cancer growth. This suggests that drugs designed to inhibit BCL6 could help to treat the disease.
Ian Miscampbell, managing partner of Sixth Element Capital LLP, said: “We’re delighted to announce the CRT Pioneer Fund’s investment in the BCL6 project and to be collaborating with the Institute of Cancer Research and their world class team once again. This investment will pave the way for potential new cancer drugs to be developed and taken into phase I clinical trials.”
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma affects around 13,400 people in the UK each year and around 4,800 people die from it. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma is the most common type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, accounting for about 40 per cent of cases.
Professor Paul Workman, chief executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma is a fast-growing and all-too-often deadly cancer. Current therapies for the disease have serious side effects and many patients relapse. We need innovative new ways of treating the disease to give patients their best chance of overcoming it.
“The support from the CRT Pioneer Fund will help us to make progress with this challenging project, with the aim of designing a whole new class of potential cancer drugs that target BCL6 – a protein that is crucial for the cancer’s rapid progression.”
Dr Phil L’Huillier, Cancer Research Technology’s director of business development, said: “We’re delighted that the CRT Pioneer Fund is providing key investment exactly where it’s needed, to help accelerate this potential new treatment through to early clinical trials, so it can start to benefit patients as quickly as possible. This announcement marks the ninth investment made by the CPF, providing potential new options for patients that might otherwise never have made it beyond the lab.”
About the CRT Pioneer Fund
The CRT Pioneer Fund is a £70m Fund dedicated to investment in oncology development programmes in Europe. The sweet spot for investment is pre-lead optimisation through to early clinical trials in patients. The Fund is dedicated to asset financing projects emanating from Europe and expects to commit two-thirds of its investment to projects derived from Cancer Research UKs oncology drug discovery portfolio with the remainder being invested in projects from outside Cancer Research UK.
About The Institute of Cancer Research, London
The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is one of the world’s most influential cancer research organisations.
Scientists and clinicians at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) are working every day to make a real impact on cancer patients’ lives. Through its unique partnership with The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach, the ICR is able to create and deliver results in a way that other institutions cannot. Together the two organisations are rated in the top four centres for cancer research and treatment globally.
The ICR has an outstanding record of achievement dating back more than 100 years. It provided the first convincing evidence that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer, laying the foundation for the now universally accepted idea that cancer is a genetic disease. Today it is a world leader at identifying cancer-related genes and discovering new targeted drugs for personalised cancer treatment.
A college of the University of London, the ICR is the UK’s top-ranked academic institution for research quality, and provides postgraduate higher education of international distinction. It has charitable status and relies on support from partner organisations, charities and the general public.
The ICR’s mission is to make the discoveries that defeat cancer. For more information visit http://www.icr.ac.uk
BACIT Limited is a self-managed closed-ended investment company listed on the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: BACT.L). Its investment objective is to deliver superior returns from investments in leading long-only and alternative investment funds with proven managers and across multiple asset classes. BACIT makes an annual donation of 1 % of its net asset value to charity, half of which is donated to the ICR and half to the BACIT Foundation, which grants that half (net of the BACIT Foundation’s expenses) to charities in a list proposed annually by the BACIT Foundation (including the ICR) in proportions determined by BACIT’s investors.
About Sixth Element Capital LLP
Sixth Element Capital is a fund manager, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The partnership is managed by Dr Robert James, Mr Ian Miscampbell and Dr Stephen Myatt, each of whom is highly experienced in the financing and commercialisation of research and development projects. Further information can be found on their web site www.sixthelementcapital.com.
EIF’s central mission is to support Europe’s micro, small and medium sized enterprises by helping them to access finance. EIF designs and develops venture and growth capital and guarantees instruments which specifically target this market segment. EIF has a crucial role to play throughout the value chain of enterprise creation, from the earliest stages of intellectual property development to mid and later stages SMEs. EIF fosters EU objectives in support of innovation, research and regional development, entrepreneurship, growth, and employment. At end 2013, EIF had committed EUR 7.9bn in over 480 venture and growth capital funds. www.eif.org
About Cancer Research Technology
Cancer Research Technology (CRT) is a specialist commercialisation and development company, which aims to develop new discoveries in cancer research for the benefit of cancer patients. CRT works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research and to establish links with commercial partners. CRT facilitates the discovery, development and marketing of new cancer therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics and enabling technologies. CRT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK, the largest independent funder of cancer research in the world. Further information about CRT can be found at www.cancertechnology.com