Cancer-fighting startup Accession Therapeutics has raised £16.6 million to advance its two lead preclinical programmes to clinical trials.

The Oxford company is developing novel immuno-oncology therapeutics combining high specificity and potency with the ability to counter tumour diversity.

New investors, including the Singaporean fund iGlobe Partners, join Primavera Venture Partners, Birk Venture and biotech angels in backing the potential of the company’s Trocept platform to deliver highly potent anticancer payloads with minimal toxicity. 

The CEO and founder of Accession Therapeutics is Bent Jakobsen, PhD FMedSci, a pioneer of T cell receptor therapy for cancer. 

The funding will also enable the company to progress its earlier stage pipeline and follows last year’s seed round of £11m. As part of the financing round, Managing Partner of iGlobe Partners Dr Yoke Sin Chong will take a board observer role. 

The Trocept approach uses an adenovirus which has been genetically modified by Professor Alan Parker’s laboratory at Cardiff University to exclusively target cancer cells. Accession Therapeutics believes that this makes it the first company to be able to develop therapeutics with a discriminatory viral point of entry into cancer cells. 

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With the virus carrying a transgene coding for one or more agents – such as antitumour or immune activator drugs or prodrugs – this engineered specificity enables the company to target some of the hardest to treat and most widespread forms of the disease, such as breast, cervical, colorectal, gastric, head and neck, lung, oral, ovarian and pancreatic cancer.  

Accession Therapeutics’ two lead programmes are each delivering a different therapeutic payload targeted to cancer cells via integrin binding. They are expected to reach the IND stage at the end of 2023 and enter the clinic at the beginning of 2024. 

“With the Trocept platform, Accession Therapeutics believes it has the ability to create ideal immunotherapies, specific in target and potent in effect with minimal toxicity,” said Jakobsen. “We’re focused on advancing our lead programmes to the clinic as rapidly as possible.”

Dr Yoke Sin Chong added: ‘iGlobe Partners is delighted to support Accession Therapeutics in its strategy to bring about a step change in the effectiveness of cancer immunotherapies. 

“We look forward to working with the company as it develops an exciting pipeline of drug candidates to induce, attract, activate and target broad and potent immune responses against cancer.”

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