Edinburgh oncology drug accelerator seals 'strategic partnership' with German peer

An Edinburgh-based oncology drug accelerator has entered a “strategic partnership” with a German peer to drive forward the development of novel cancer therapies.

Cumulus Oncology has sealed the tie-up with Dortmund-based Lead Discovery Center (LDC), which was established in 2008 to facilitate the translation of world-class science into innovative therapies for the benefits of patients.

The collaboration agreement enables Cumulus and LDC to accelerate the discovery and development of novel oncology therapies. Both organisations will target discoveries in the oncology area for collaboration and potential future company co-creation, while allowing wider access to funding partners and other global collaboration partners. LDC also has alliances in place with Covid vaccine developer AstraZeneca, Bayer, and Merck.

Edinburgh-headquartered Cumulus was founded in 2017 to create spin-out companies around novel anti-cancer therapies that are fast-tracked through development and target cancers that do not respond well to existing treatments. Cumulus secured a £1.7 million investment round led by Eos Advisory last July and in September founded its first spin-out, Modulus Oncology, alongside the University of Sheffield.

L to R: Clare Wareing and Alan Wise (both Cumulus Oncology) and Mark Beaumont and Andrew McNeill (both Eos Advisory). Picture: Stewart Attwood

The capital firm grew its headcount to 20 last year, when the company also appointed a high profile advisory board.

Alan Wise, chairman and co-founder of Cumulus, said: “This strategic partnership with one of the leading drug discovery centres in Europe provides a unique opportunity for Cumulus Oncology to fuel its pipeline of next generation novel oncology assets.”

Clare Wareing, the firm’s chief executive and also a co-founder, said: “We are very much looking forward to working with our colleagues at LDC to the mutual benefit of both our organisations and ultimately to the benefit of the cancer research community, in particular the patients dealing with a cancer diagnosis.”

Bert Klebl, chief executive and chief science officer of LDC, added: “We anticipate that joining forces with Cumulus Oncology will leverage early-stage novel oncology approaches from our research networks, turning these early-stage assets into true innovations in cancer research and therapies.”

Cumulus Oncology was co-founded by Wareing, a successful oncology scientist and entrepreneur who previously established and scaled Nexus Oncology before its acquisition by US-based Ockham Development Inc in 2012.

Wise, Cumulus’s chairman, was the chief executive of Scottish biotech IOmet Pharma which was acquired by US pharmaceutical group MSD (known as Merck & Co in the United States and Canada) in 2016, while fellow Cumulus co-founder Phill Cowley was head of chemistry at IOmet Pharma.

Last month, Wareing pointed to additional growth opportunities in Europe and Asia. The business said it was also looking to add two more subsidiaries as well as further senior team appointments.

She said at the time: said: “We now have an incredible team in place and we’re collectively focused on developing and commercialising cancer therapies, while scaling the company from a base in Scotland.

“The business model at Cumulus enables us to keep pace with emerging scientific insights in the cancer research field. We are not one biotech based on a scientific discovery at a point in time, but a company that continually creates new biotechs in response to emerging scientific discoveries.”

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The Big Interview: Cumulus Oncology founder and CEO Clare Wareing

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