King’s College London and RCT Establish New Anticancer Drug Discovery Company

A new company, Femtogenix Ltd, has been formed by King’s College London and Research Corporation Technologies (RCT) of Tucson, Arizona (USA), with RCT also providing Series A funding for the venture. The new company is based on the work of David Thurston, Professor of Drug Discovery, and his colleagues Dr Miraz Rahman and Dr Paul Jackson at King’s College London. Dr Chris Keightley has been named as the CEO. The Company will operate in the Britannia House research laboratories of King’s College in Trinity Street, London, within the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (IPS).

The main aim of Femtogenix is to develop a new generation of very potent molecules – known as “payloads” – that can be attached to targeting systems and then used as a form of highly specific chemotherapy to kill cancer cells with greatly reduced side effects.

The targeting systems are usually (although not always) based on antibodies in which case the final agents are known as Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs). After the successful commercialisation of KadcylaTM (Genentech/Roche) and AdcetrisTM (Seattle Genetics) in the past few years, ADCs now constitute a large proportion of the novel anticancer therapies currently undergoing clinical trials worldwide. There is a real need for new payload molecules due to the limitations of existing ones, and consequently there is intense interest by pharmaceutical companies in acquiring the most effective molecules to attach to their delivery systems.

Prof David Thurston commented

“Femtogenix Ltd is an exciting opportunity to achieve a practical outcome for our research, which, hopefully, should benefit cancer patients in the coming years. We are grateful to the staff of the King’s Intellectual Property & Licensing Office for their vision in helping to found Femtogenix, and to RCT for sharing that vision and providing the substantial funding and other support needed to establish the Company.”

Dr Chris Keightley, CEO of Femtogenix said

“We plan to expand and develop our platform of novel payload molecules and make these available to biopharma companies through partnering and licensing arrangements. The early indications are that these new molecules will address the needs of those wanting to make the next generation of Antibody Drug Conjugates.”

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