Leiden-based and Boston University spin-off Hercules Pharmaceuticals has raised €300.000 for the further development of a new drug to improve the immuun system of cancer patients.
The capital raised will be used to validate the effectiveness and safety of the medicne through further pre-clinical research and tests of the drug that can be classified as a so-called ‘checkpoint inhibiter.’
This is a class of drugs that help the weakened immune system of cancer patients to strengthen so it can identify and destroy cancer cells on it own. By doing so these drugs, which have been successfully applied to lung and skin cancer cases, enable the human body to prevent the further development and spread of the cancer.
The development of the new drug is based on decades of research of professor David Sherr, Director of the Immunology Training Program at Boston University and Chief Scientific Officer of Hercules Pharmaceuticals. The drug focuses more specifically on inhibiting the Aryl hydrocarbon receptor. A receptor that suppresses the functioning of the immune system of cancer patients.
“The capital raised from UNIIQ enables us to validate our drug further and prepare for testing it on a small group of people or Phase I of clinical testing” says industry veteran and CEO of Hercules Pharmaceuticals, Bart Wuurman to StartupJuncture. “For that we will raise an additional 15 million in Series A funding. These test will help us to convince investors in the prospects of the drug.” According to Wuurman initial tests have shown very promising resulsts. Wuurman: “Our tests show that the life expectancy of the animals that received the drug increased with 90 %.” Wuurman expects that the drug will be available on the market in 2024.
Immune therapy has improved the treatment of cancer patients in last couple of years. Hercules Pharmaceuticals has booked promising results in this specific field of cancer treatment, says Liduina Hammer, fund manager at UNNIQ. “I am glad we can support the management team to take the next step in the development of their technology and the company.”