Belfast start-up CV6 Therapeutics raises £8m to trial cancer drug

CV6 Therapeutics will conduct further research with Queen’s University Belfast while clinical trials are going on.

Belfast-based CV6 Therapeutics has raised £8m to invest in clinical trials and further research for its cancer drug.

Invest NI provided £3m through a research and development grant, while £5m was raised from investors such as QUBIS, Techstart and Clarendon.

The funding will go towards early-stage clinical trials and further scientific development work on the company’s first anti-cancer drug, CV6-168.

“CV6-168 has the potential to be a widely impactful oncology product, significantly improving outcomes for patients in multiple cancer types,” said Dr Robert Ladner, CEO of CV6 Therapeutics.

“Moving into the first-in-human phase 1a clinical trial is therefore an important milestone for us.”

He added that the trial will focus on measuring how the drug is absorbed by the body as well as identifying optimal dosing levels for treating cancer.

The trials will take place in a number of locations across the UK. At the same time, CV6 Therapeutics will also be conducting further research into cancer treatment with Queen’s University Belfast.

“Pre-clinical studies show that CV6-168 works alongside standard cancer therapies to activate a unique mechanism of action that induces cancer cell DNA damage and cell death while simultaneously activating the immune system to further enhance its anti-cancer effect,” said Ladner.

He also thanked the investors for their support, adding that “raising funding for research like this is challenging”.

The £3m grant from Invest NI is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014 to 2020.

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Mel Chittock, interim CEO of Invest NI, said that CV6-168 “is one of the first Northern Ireland developed drugs to be trialled here and will significantly boost the region’s credibility and visibility in cancer drug development”.

CV6 Therapeutics relocated to Northern Ireland from the US in 2015, attracted by the opportunity to collaborate with Queen’s University Belfast.

It is now based at the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research and currently employs six staff. Following the funding boost, it will hire four new staff to support its cancer research activities.

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