St George’s expands successful collaboration in pursuit of new, first-in-class cancer therapies

St George’s, University of London and NeoPhore today announce the expansion of their research partnership after a successful collaboration investigating novel cancer immunotherapies.

NeoPhore, a cancer immuno-oncology company, is seeking to develop its pipeline of candidate therapies that make cancers more easily recognised for destruction by the immune system.

The small molecule drug candidates disrupt a DNA mismatch repair pathway in tumour cells, causing the cells to accumulate a greater number of mutations. These highly mutated cells are more easily identified by the immune system, enabling immune cells to seek and destroy them.

In May 2021, St George’s and NeoPhore agreed a research collaboration, with the university providing space in Dr Ferran Valderrama’s laboratory for NeoPhore’s scientists to carry out experiments in the development of their first-in-class therapies.

Dr Valderrama, Reader in Cancer Cell Biology at St George's, explained how the NeoPhore partnership will speed up the development of novel cancer therapies: “Combining our expertise in cell culture models and imaging with their expansive drug development knowledge, we’ve been able to diversify our research and build new skills that will carry forward into future research projects.

“It is our hope that by opening our doors to NeoPhore, we will help bring their drug candidates closer to clinical trial, and at the same time, show that partnerships between industry and academia can bring significant benefits to both institutions.”

This announcement recognises the expansion of the collaboration, with NeoPhore doubling the full-time researchers positioned at St George’s, a strategic move that will allow them to further accelerate their research programmes.

The collaboration will continue to make use of St George’s cutting-edge research facilities, including bench space for tissue culture experiments as well as access to the university’s leading Image Resource Facility.

Speaking on the partnership, Dr Matthew Baker, Chief Executive Officer at NeoPhore, said: “We’re delighted to expand our collaboration with St George’s, and by working closely with Dr Valderrama, we have added a new dimension to our work, bringing his scientific expertise to our research. The fantastic team at St George’s has enabled us to accelerate our drug development programme, while providing the flexibility of a space that already has the world class facilities we need to carry out our research.”

Professor Jon Friedland, Deputy Principal for Research and Enterprise at St George’s, University of London, added: “By expanding our collaboration with NeoPhore, we are further building our relationship and helping them to reach their goals.

“Here at St George’s, we are keen to support small and medium-sized enterprises to develop their work through sharing our expertise and facilities. As the UK’s specialist healthcare university, we are open for business to collaborate with innovative organisations looking to improve health.”

The Enterprise and Innovation team at St George’s, University of London supports industry-funded research projects, intellectual property identification and licensing, spin-out companies and consultancy at the university. The university is increasing its capacity for further partnerships over the coming year, welcoming new collaborations with small and medium enterprises who are looking to work with academic colleagues.

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