Grey Wolf targets ERAP antigen presentation pathways with the aim of ‘illuminating’ non-responsive tumours for attack and destruction by the immune system.
Grey Wolf Therapeutics, a drug discovery biotechnology company focused on immuno-oncology, today announces it has completed a £10 million ($14 million) series A financing round with leading international healthcare investors Andera Partners and Canaan.
Grey Wolf’s novel approach is aimed at directly altering tumour cells, illuminating them for attack and destruction by the immune system. The goal is to exploit this increased tumour visibility in monotherapy and to extend the therapeutic benefit of already approved immunotherapies to many more cancers.
Grey Wolf is developing small molecule modulators of endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidases (ERAPs), key proteins in the antigen presentation pathway, to change the neoantigen repertoire in tumours and thereby increase the number and range of neoantigens presented on tumour cells available to engage an immune response.
This unique small molecule immuno-oncology approach builds on the exciting recent advances in cancer immunotherapies that address a key limiting factor for approved treatments, while avoiding the complex and costly personalisation required for other approaches such as neoantigen vaccines.
Grey Wolf has programs targeting the two homologues of ERAP, ERAP1 and ERAP2, aimed at developing potent and selective modulators, with the lead program being against ERAP1.
Grey Wolf was co-founded by Peter Joyce, former Project Leader at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and Tom McCarthy, former President and CEO of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, and comprises a team of world-leading experts in immuno-oncology, antigen presentation and drug discovery. It is working with the University of Oxford, University of Southampton and has a strategic partnership with Sygnature Discovery, a leading independent provider of drug discovery resources and expertise. Sygnature is also an investor in the Company.
Peter Joyce, Chief Executive Officer of Grey Wolf Therapeutics, said:
The recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy have fundamentally changed the treatment landscape in oncology, but the fact remains that current approaches only target the minority of tumours that are visible to the immune system, whilst the vast majority of cancers do not respond. There is strong validation for targeting ERAPs to increase tumour visibility and with these funds we are now positioned to build on our existing work and collaborations to deliver a clinical candidate in the coming two to three years.
Tom McCarthy, Executive Chairman of Grey Wolf Therapeutics, said:
Attracting investors of the calibre of Andera and Canaan is a strong validation of the potential of our approach to broaden the effectiveness of immunotherapy. We believe we have a truly novel approach in targeting tumours themselves, rather than direct regulation of the immune system, and I am excited by the opportunity to work with our investors and talented team on the next steps of Grey Wolf’s development.
Thierry Hercend, Venture Partner at Andera Partners, said:
Grey Wolf has identified a highly innovative approach to immuno-oncology and, in Peter and Tom, has founders with very strong scientific and entrepreneurial credentials. With the support of Sygnature, they achieved a significant amount with their seed funding and demonstrated a scientifically rigorous and nimble approach to drug development which we value. I’m confident that with this series A financing, Grey Wolf will deliver on the full potential of ERAP modulation.
Brent Ahrens, General Partner at Canaan, said:
Grey Wolf marks Canaan’s first investment in the UK biotechnology sector, and we are excited by the Company’s science and its potential to help the huge numbers of patients yet to receive any benefit from current oncology treatment options.
Raphaël Wisniewski, Partner at Andera, Thierry Hercend, Venture Partner at Andera and Brent Ahrens, General Partner at Canaan have joined Grey Wolf’s Board of Directors.