LifeArc has joined leading UK venture capital firm UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S) in investing into GyreOx Therapeutics (GyreOx). The funding will support a two-year programme to develop and automate GyreOx’s proprietary drug discovery platform, MACRO.
The MACRO platform generates a range of highly modified macrocyclic peptide molecules, known as gyrocycles, which can penetrate cells and be targeted to tackle the protein-protein interactions (PPI) within. These intracellular processes are potentially implicated in many health conditions including cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases and are difficult to reach with currently available medicine classes. Automation of the MACRO platform will enhance the generation process further to allow a greater number of novel macrocycles to be generated more quickly and more cheaply.
Dr Bill Primrose, Founder and CEO of GyreOx said: “It’s a strong endorsement of our technology that we have been able to attract support from such quality investors. We have an ambitious plan to develop the platform and to deploy it on a number of internal programmes, including one targeting an epigenetic cancer target. It is our ambition to make GyreOx into a clinical stage company with a strong drug pipeline and a number of discovery alliances with major players in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Common medicines classes include small molecules and biologics. While small molecules can enter cells to modulate intracellular process, they have difficulty in addressing complex targets, including PPIs. Biologics, such as humanised antibodies, are unable to enter the cell and are therefore only suitable for addressing drug targets on the cell surface. GyreOx’s Gyrocycle™ highly modified macrocyclic peptides combine the targeting ability of biologics with the cell-entry ability of small molecules; these molecules present an attractive, novel therapeutic modality as they can also be engineered to further improve their pharmacokinetic profile and ability to penetrate cells to reach previously “undruggable” targets.
Dr David Holbrook, Head of Seed Fund, LifeArc said: “The LifeArc Seed Fund is delighted to be supporting GyreOx on its work on the macrocycles platform and helping translate the science on the next step towards the patient. GyreOx is a great example of the type of company we are trying to support — great science, great scientists, strong start up management all addressing a significant unmet health need.”
GyreOx Ltd. was founded in May 2019 as a result of the ground-breaking science carried out by Professor James Naismith (University of Oxford, previously at the University of St Andrews) and Professor Marcel Jaspars (University of Aberdeen). This seed investment has been led by UKI2S with LifeArc as the major investor and a contribution from Oxford University’s University Challenge Seed Fund. Part of the investment will also provide match funding for an Innovate UK grant to GyreOx.
Oliver Sexton, Investment Director UKI2S said: “GyreOx can design truly novel compounds with the ability to target intracellularly. This opens up a whole new drug space. UKI2S is excited to back such groundbreaking and medically important research.”