Edinburgh drug accelerator gets £9 million boost in mission to develop next generation of cancer therapies
Drug discovery accelerator Cumulus Oncology has secured £9 million of funding in a “milestone” moment as it looks to bring new cancer treatments to market.
Edinburgh-headquartered Cumulus was founded in 2017 to create spin-out companies around novel cancer therapies that are fast-tracked through development and target cancers that do not respond well to existing treatments. The £9m financing round has been led by existing investor, St Andrews-based Eos Advisory, and also brings on board the Scottish National Investment Bank, which is investing £6m.
Proceeds from the funding will be used to support Cumulus Oncology’s growth plans, expand its portfolio and accelerate the development of new cancer treatments from discovery towards clinical proof of concept.
The first company established by the biotech accelerator, Nodus Oncology, is actively engaged in two innovative oncology drug discovery programmes in the area of DNA damage response. A second business, currently in “stealth mode”, is set to be unveiled shortly, while a third company creation is anticipated within the next 12 months.
Clare Wareing, co-founder and chief executive of Cumulus Oncology, said: “This funding round marks an important milestone for Cumulus, as oncology remains a critical area of scientific innovation and unmet medical need. At Cumulus, we’re not only innovating at the scientific level but also offering a uniquely differentiated process for decision-making and prioritisation in drug discovery and development. The business model enables only the strongest science to be translated from discovery into clinical trials.
“Our portfolio approach aims to enhance the ultimate success rate in cancer therapy development, which currently remains unacceptably low. It also provides an alternative approach to the de-risking of early-stage oncology investment.”
She added: “We are grateful for the support from Eos and the Scottish National Investment Bank enabling us to continue investing in our existing companies and expand our portfolio of new biotechs, advancing our mission to develop the next generation of cancer therapies.”
The accelerator’s business model is based on two key strategies - the inclusion of molecularly selected patient sub-groups throughout all stages of drug discovery and development, and the utilisation of advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning platforms. These will be embedded into Cumulus’s decision-making process to “prioritise targets, assets and the relevant patient population to focus on”.
Paul Callaghan, investment director at the Scottish National Investment Bank, said: “Cumulus, aided by an extremely experienced and capable team, is innovating not only in the science, but in the entire process of how drugs are moved from discovery to later stage clinical trials. We are really pleased to be helping them achieve their ambitions and shine a spotlight on Scotland’s drug discovery capabilities.”
Andrew McNeill, managing partner of Eos, added: “The Cumulus approach is one that supports the development of a range of cancer treatments, this inherently reduces risk by not placing reliance on one therapeutic candidate. We see this as a really exciting and novel business model, with a team who have the track record of having brought 17 new cancer drugs to market throughout their careers. Eos has been proud to support Cumulus since its inception.”
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