GyreOx, a group working at the Research Complex, announces seed funding

17 Mar 2020

GyreOx announces seed funding to develop novel therapeutics targeting intracellular proteins implicated in cancer and autoimmune diseases

11 March 2020 – GyreOx Therapeutics (GyreOx), developing its novel MACRO platform, announces financial backing today from UKI2S and LifeArc.

Developing complex molecules able to target intracellular interactions, the company will develop therapy for cancer and autoimmune diseases based on research carried out by Professor James Naismith (University of Oxford, previously at the University of St Andrews) and Professor Marcel Jaspars (University of Aberdeen). This seed investment has been led by UKI2S with LifeArc as the major investor and a contribution from Oxford University’s University Challenge Seed Fund (UCSF). Part of the investment will also provide match funding for an Innovate UK grant to GyreOx. The funding will support a two-year programme to develop and automate GyreOx’s proprietary drug discovery platform, MACRO. MACRO platform generates a range of Gyrocycle™ highly modified macrocyclic peptides, which can penetrate cells and be targeted to tackle the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) within. These intracellular processes are implicated in many health conditions including cancer, inflammation and autoimmune diseases and are difficult to reach with currently available medicine classes. Automation of the MACRO platform will enhance the generation process further to allow a greater number of novel Gyrocycle™ compounds to be generated more quickly and more cheaply.

Common medicine classes include small molecules and biologics. While small molecules can enter cells to modulate intracellular process, they have difficulty in addressing complex targets, including PPIs. Biologics, such as humanised antibodies, are unable to enter the cell and are therefore only suitable for addressing drug targets on the cell surface. Gyrocycle™ highly modified macrocyclic peptides combine the targeting ability of biologics with the cell-entry ability of small molecules; these molecules present an attractive, novel therapeutic modality as they can also be engineered to further improve their pharmacokinetic profile and ability to penetrate cells to reach previously “undruggable” targets.

Dr Bill Primrose, Founder and CEO of GyreOx said, “it’s a strong endorsement of our technology that we have been able to attract support from such quality investors We have an ambitious plan to develop the platform and to deploy it on a number of internal programmes, including one targeting an epigenetic cancer target. It is our ambition to make GyreOx into a clinical stage company with a strong drug pipeline and a number of discovery alliances with major players in the pharmaceutical industry.” Professor James Naismith, Founder and Technical Director of GyreOx said, “It’s fantastic to see science that we did in the lab being translated in this way. This has been real teamwork combining chemistry and biology.”

Professor Marcel Jaspars, Founder and Principal Consultant said, “GyreOx builds on the ground-breaking science we have been developing in the past few years to deliver a platform to rapidly design and produce compounds to address complex disease targets. GyreOx offers technology that speeds up drug discovery in this challenging pharmaceutical area, and I look forward to contributing to its success” Dr David Holbrook, Head of Seed Fund, LifeArc said: “The LifeArc Seed Fund is delighted to be supporting GyreOx on its work on the macrocycles platform and helping translate the science on the next step towards the patient. GyreOx is a great example of the type of company we are trying to support—great science, great scientists, strong start up management all addressing a significant unmet health need.”

Oliver Sexton, Investment Director UKI2S said “GyreOx can design truly novel compounds with the ability to target intracellularly. This opens up a whole new drug space. UKI2S is excited to back such ground breaking and medically important research”