The funding will target deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs), proteins which can damage DNA and cause cell proliferation, leading to cancer, inflammation, neurodegeneration, muscle wasting and infectious disease.
The award from the Biomedical Catalyst is jointly funded by the Medical Research Council and government programme, Innovate UK.
The grant supports UK academics and small to medium-sized businesses with taking pharma projects from discovery stage to commercialization.
Mission CEO Anker Lundemose told in-Pharmatechnologist.com this is the latest founding round for the DUB inhibitor projects, following two grants for feasibility studies from Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board).
The money will finance a two-year search for a small-molecule inhibitor targeting one unnamed deubiquitylating enzyme in particular.
DUBs are “an area recognised by many as the next potent kinase area. It will yield a lot of cancer drugs. But it’s hard to generate chemistry against them. We have solved the chemistry issues, which is the key problem,” said Lundemose.
Mission’s proprietary screening platform, which came out of Cambridge University three or four years ago – allows screening of multiple DOBs in one assay to find one that lies at a key node of oncogenic signalling.
The programme will target difficult-to-treat cancers; “We do know where we’re going clinically,” said the CEO.
The discovery work will be performed at Mission’s headquarters at the Babraham Research Campus, south of Cambridge, UK, and some of the chemistry will be outsourced to UK companies which have not yet been chosen.
The company has strong links with Cancer Research UK laboratories and the Jackson Laboratories at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. It has received £27m in venture capital from Sofinnova Partners, Imperial Innovations, SR One, Roche Venture Fund and Pfizer.