UK-based biotech company Storm Therapeutics raises £12M from Imperial, Cambridge Innovation etc.

Storm Therapeutics, a spin-out company from the University of Cambridge’s Gurdon Institute focused on the identification and development of small molecule drugs that target RNA-modifying enzymes, has secured £12 million in series ‘A’ funding from Imperial Innovations, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Merck Ventures and Pfizer Venture Investments.

Storm Therapeutics is based upon the ground-breaking work of its founders, Professor Tony Kouzarides and Professor Eric Miska, in the field of RNA epigenetics.

RNA (ribonucleic acid) is the only direct product of the human genome and acts as the template for the synthesis of all proteins, the molecular machines of the cell.  RNA is also known to be a key player in cellular decision making.  There are several large families of RNA-modifying enzymes which catalyse a diverse range of epigenetic modifications of RNA, changing RNA activity and thereby key processes within the cell.  There is a growing understanding of the importance of RNA modification in the development of cancer, opening up novel therapeutic targets in cancer treatment.

Professors Kouzarides and Miska and their research groups have identified certain of these RNA-modifying enzymes against which Storm Therapeutics intends to develop potential therapeutics using intellectual property licensed from Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge.  The company will use the proceeds of the funding to identify small molecule modulators of these novel targets in RNA modification pathways and develop them into new classes of anti-cancer treatments.

Professors Tony Kouzarides and Eric Miska, co-founders of Storm Therapeutics, commented: “The work that our research groups are undertaking on non-coding RNA and the enzymes that modify this RNA is giving us incredibly interesting insights into how gene expression can be modified at a cellular level.  The funding and support that Storm Therapeutics has received from its investors will allow the development of these insights into a new class of therapeutics ready to be taken into clinical trials.”

Dr Robert Tansley of Cambridge Innovation Capital said: “Storm Therapeutics’ insights into epigenetics provide the potential to open up a range of therapeutic targets to treat cancer. Storm Therapeutics exemplifies the quality of companies with innovative ideas and great commercial potential that continue to spin out of the University of Cambridge.”

Dr Rob Woodman of Imperial Innovations, added: “The Gurdon Institute’s work on RNA-modification is a fascinating and exciting area of target biology.  The investment syndicate of Imperial Innovations, Cambridge Innovation Capital, Merck Ventures and Pfizer Venture Investments is delighted to be working with the founders and management team to make Storm Therapeutics a leader in therapeutic modulation of RNA modifying enzymes.”

Gurdon Institute

The Gurdon Institute was founded in 1989, to promote research in the areas of developmental biology and cancer, and to foster a collaborative environment for independent research groups with diverse but complementary interests.  The institute is named in recognition of the achievements of Professor Sir John Gurdon, one of the founder members who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012, and who continues to conduct his research in the Institute. The Gurdon Institute has an outstanding track record in transforming discoveries in fundamental science into new clinical targets and therapies.

The institute is an integrated part of the University of Cambridge, and is sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK.

Cambridge Innovation Capital

Cambridge Innovation Capital (“CIC”) invests in intellectual property rich companies in the Cambridge Cluster. It is led by an experienced investment team, an outstanding board and advisory panel of leading scientists and entrepreneurs.

CIC combines a strong relationship with the University of Cambridge with deep financial and industry links to the Cambridge Cluster. It raised initial capital of £50 million in 2013 from long term institutional and strategic investors such as Invesco Perpetual, Lansdowne, IP Group, ARM and the University of Cambridge Endowment Fund. The company strives to build leading businesses using a long term return strategy – removing the pressure to deliver the early exits associated with the traditional venture capital model.

Positioned within the dynamic Cambridge Cluster, CIC has a unique appreciation for world-leading scientific development. The company is committed to ensuring that its investment partners can build leading businesses from brilliant technologies – with the support of some of the most influential figures in the sector.

For further information, including details of other CIC portfolio companies, see www.cicplc.co.uk

Imperial Innovations

Imperial Innovations Group plc (“Innovations”) creates, builds and invests in pioneering technology companies and licensing opportunities developed from outstanding scientific research from the ‘Golden Triangle’, the geographical region broadly bounded by London, Cambridge and Oxford. This area has an unrivalled cluster of outstanding academic research and technology businesses, and is home to four of the world’s top 10 universities, as well as leading research institutions, the cream of the UK’s science and technology businesses and many of its leading investors.

Innovations supports scientists and entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of their ideas, through the licensing of intellectual property, by leading the formation of new companies, by recruiting high-calibre management teams and by providing investment and encouraging co-investment. Innovations remains an active investor over the life of its portfolio companies, with the majority of Innovations’ investment going into businesses in which it is already a shareholder.

Since becoming a public company in 2006, Innovations has raised more than £440 million of equity from investors, which has enabled it to invest in some of the most exciting spin-outs to come out of UK academic research. In addition, the Group has agreed £80.0 million in loan facilities from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Between Innovations’ admission to AIM (August 2006) and 31 July 2015, Innovations had invested a total of £236.8 million across its portfolio companies, which had raised collectively investment of £1.3 billion.

For further information, including details of other Innovations portfolio companies, see www.imperialinnovations.co.uk

Merck Ventures BV

Merck Ventures is the strategic, corporate venture capital arm of Merck. Its mandate is to invest in innovative technologies and products with the potential to significantly impact Merck‘s core business areas. From our headquarters in Amsterdam and offices in the US and Israel we invest globally in transformational ideas driven by great entrepreneurs. Merck Ventures takes an active role in its portfolio companies and teams up with entrepreneurs and co-investors to translate innovation towards commercial success. Merck Ventures has a significant focus on early-stage investing and company creation including the creation of spin-offs to leverage Merck‘s science and technology base.

For more information, please visit http://www.merck-ventures.com.

Pfizer Venture Investments

Pfizer Venture Investments (PVI), the venture capital arm of Pfizer Inc., was founded in 2004 and invests for return in areas of current or future strategic interest to Pfizer. As part of the Worldwide Business Development division, PVI seeks to remain at the forefront of life science advances, looking to identify and invest in emerging companies that are developing compounds and technologies that have the potential to enhance Pfizer’s pipeline and shape the future of our industry.

For more information, please visit www.pfizerventureinvestments.com.

 

Source: Storm Therapeutics

Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+