BiVictriX Therapeutics, led by 33-year-old CEO Tiffany Thorn, is trying to fix one of the longest-standing problems in cancer treatment.
The firm had raised £2.3 million in investment, including a significant slice from The Development Bank of Wales, before Thorn took the decision to list the BioTech business on the London Stock Exchange’s alternative AIM market.
The listing raised £7.5m but the Wigan-raised CEO hopes it’s just the latest stepping stone on her mission to transform the treatment of cancer, and acute myeloid leukemia in particular.
“It you take antibiotics, for example, they’re targeting a bacteria,” she says in an interview with our sister publication TechBlast. “A bacteria cell is very different to a human cell.
“The problem with a cancer cell is it’s very similar in appearance to a normal healthy cell in the body. Designing the drugs that only target the cancer cells and don’t inadvertently target the healthy cells is the big problem in cancer drug development.
“The Holy Grail is if we can develop drugs that are really toxic but only to cancer cells instead of healthy cells. If we can do that we could reduce the toxicity that patients face – and then we can give higher doses of the drug that would be much more effective without significantly harming the patient in the process.
“At the moment we have to limit the doses we give because of the side effects so it limits the overall effectiveness of the treatment.”
BiVictriX Therapeutics has bases in Alderley Park, Cheshire and Wales, well away from the traditional ‘golden triangle’ of drug development in the UK of Cambridge and Oxford.
“We know that what we do is really valued and critical work,” she explains. “We need to stay competitive. We’re a small company working in a really exciting area.
“As soon as we start to showcase our data we expect to see many other pharma companies becoming interested in this area. We need to stay really nimble and competitive.
“Being a listed company has given us really quick access to the funds that we need to accelerate our development to stay competitive in this area while developing these drugs for the people that need them as quickly as possible.
“To stand there at the Stock Exchange, ring the bell and start trading, was a fantastic experience and just a credit to everyone who has helped us get there.”
Read the full story below on TechBlast about Thorn’s battle with undiagnosed dyslexia, her rise to become a scientific founder and how AML struck down her primary school teacher before her father was diagnosed with the devastating blood cancer.