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BT1718: developing a first-in-class therapy in an award-winning partnership

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by Cancer Research UK | Research Feature

15 August 2017

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BT1718: first-in-class therapy for solid tumours

We’re working together with Bicycle Therapeutics to trial a first-in-class drug in patients with advanced solid tumours, in an innovative and Scrip Award-winning partnership.

Together with Dr Udai Banerjee, Chief Investigator for the trial, our Centre for Drug Development (CDD) is sponsoring and funding the first-in-human phase 1 and phase 2a clinical trial for BT1718, a bicyclic peptide conjugated to DM1, an existing anti-cancer therapeutic that kills cells by inhibiting microtubule formation. The first patient for this trial was dosed in February 2018.

Bicyclic peptides are small molecule drugs which have pharmacology similar to monoclonal antibodies providing targeted delivery of highly potent cytotoxic drugs, but their low molecular weight allows them to penetrate tumours far more efficiently. In this case, the peptide portion of BT1718 binds with high affinity to Membrane Type 1 Matrix Metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP) which is highly expressed in many solid tumours, including triple negative breast cancer, sarcoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

A prize-winning partnership

We joined up with Bicycle Therapeutics in a pioneering partnership model in December 2016. While we are sponsoring the early-phase development, Bicycle Therapeutics has the right to license the results of our trial in return for success-based milestone and royalty payments to CRUK as well as an equity stake in the company to reflect our value-add to the broader Bicycle platform.

“This relationship is an example of a situation where one plus one is greater than two,” says Kevin Lee, CEO of Bicycle Therapeutics. “Our excitement for our lead molecule BT1718, our broad pipeline behind BT1718, our technology platform, and its potential to transform outcomes for patients was shared by CRUK. It is clear that by combining forces we can deliver potential benefit to patients more rapidly than we could by working alone.”


Kevin Lee, CEO, Bicycle TherapeuticsWe greatly value our partnership with CRUK for many reasons, especially the access the partnership gives us to CRUK’s in-depth and complementary expertise and to its clinical network and infrastructure. CRUK’s investment, as well as the breadth of data we expect will be generated, is beyond what we would have been able to accomplish on our own.

—Kevin Lee, CEO, Bicycle Therapeutics


In November 2017, our partnership won the Best Partnership Alliance Award at the industry’s prestigious Scrip Awards, highlighting the genuinely collaborative nature of this partnership model.