Scenic Biotech, a pioneer in the discovery of genetic modifiers to enable the development of disease modifying therapeutics for rare genetic disorders and other devastating illnesses, announced that it has been awarded a €3.1 million Innovation Credit from the Dutch Government. The funds will be used to advance the Company’s lead CD47/QPCTL immuno-oncology program through preclinical development towards human clinical studies.
The Innovation Credit is awarded by the Dutch government through its agency RVO of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and is aimed at the development of promising and challenging innovations. It will support the preclinical development of novel QPCTL (Glutaminyl-peptide cyclotransferase-like) inhibitors, completing the two-year project with an IND filing.
Scenic’s CD47/QPCTL immuno-oncology program builds on seminal work by the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) and Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC). An enzyme present in cancer cells, QPTCL was first demonstrated as a promising target for immuno-oncology by using the Company’s proprietary high-resolution genetics platform called Cell-Seq. The results of this discovery were published in the journal Nature Medicine.
QPCTL was found to be a druggable modifier of the CD47 innate immune checkpoint, which is one of the major mechanisms by which cancer cells evade detection by the immune system. As a result of this activity, CD47 is also known as the ‘don’t eat me signal’. After being the first to discover and validate QPCTL as a promising target in immuno-oncology, NKI and LUMCs scientists also showed that small molecule inhibitors of QPCTL can prevent the expression of functional CD47 on cancer cells, thereby causing the cancer cells to be attacked by macrophages and destroyed.
Scenic has gone on to develop a series of chemical inhibitors with potent inhibition against QPCTL and has filed a patent application related to this chemical series.
Dr Sebastian Nijman, co-founder and CEO of Scenic Biotech said:
“We are delighted to be selected for this award from the Dutch Government, recognizing the potential of our program to develop a new cancer therapy. The funding will enable us to accelerate the optimization of our proprietary small molecule QPCTL inhibitors and then advance them towards filing an Investigational New Drug (IND) application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is the first step in the drug review process before clinical trials can begin and will represent an exciting milestone for our Company.”
An Innovation Credit can include the technical development of a new product or process or the clinical development of a medicine or device and requires matching funding from Scenic. After the IND approval phase, Scenic will seek a Partner to support human clinical trials.