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Oxford Spin-out Alethiomics launches to advance its multi-omics target discovery pipeline in blood cancer, as highlighted in ASH plenary

Oxford Spin-out Alethiomics launches to advance its multi-omics target discovery pipeline in blood cancer, as highlighted in ASH plenary

  • Spin-out from University of Oxford built on a decade of world-leading research on blood cancers and breakthrough innovation in single-cell multi-omic analysis by founders Professor Adam Mead and Professor Beth Psaila
  • £6m seed financing from science business builder Oxford Science Enterprises
  • Novel therapeutics, based on targets discovered using the TARGET-seq platform, will be developed to address unmet need in blood cancers
  • TARGET-seq highlighted in a plenary session at the American Society of Haematology (ASH) meeting on 12 December

Led by pharma/biotech experienced Board and Management, Dr Mark Throsby, Chairman and Dr Edward Ainscow, CSO

Oxford, UK, 15 December 2021 …. Alethiomics, a drug discovery company focused on developing targeted therapies to treat a family of blood cancers called myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), launched today, backed by £6m seed financing from Oxford Science Enterprises.

A spin-out from the University of Oxford, the company is based on world-leading discoveries in clinical haematology and single-cell multi-omics by its founders, Professor Adam Mead and Professor Beth Psaila. Mark Throsby Ph.D. has been appointed as Chairman and Edward Ainscow Ph.D. has joined as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

MPNs are a group of chronic blood cancers that begin with mutations occurring in cancer stem cells in the bone marrow. Currently available treatments, for example JAK2 inhibitors, provide symptomatic benefit, but do not tackle the underlying disease drivers meaning that many patients have a persistent burden of disease and remain at risk of disease progression.

Identifying new drug targets within these mutant cells is critical to developing targeted and curative therapies. Alethiomics’ founders have pioneered the use of single-cell multi-omic approaches to better understand the biology of mutant-positive stem cells in MPNs and to discover novel molecular targets as the basis for drug discovery. They have also developed bespoke platforms for target validation to accelerate successful translation to the clinic.

Prof. Mead said: “Despite tremendous advances in oncology, the quality of life and outcome for patients with many aggressive cancers remains poor. It is now clear that precision treatments targeted at specific driver mutations in cancer-initiating cells are required. Current approaches to single-cell tumour analysis are unable to resolve both cellular and mutational heterogeneity. The Alethiomics TARGET-seq platform simultaneously detects DNA mutations, the RNA transcriptome and cell surface proteins from individual cells to provide a holistic understanding of pathologies and more intelligent target identification.

Prof. Psaila added: “Our initial focus is on the most sinister MPNs, for which current treatments are really inadequate and many of our patients still suffer very poor outcomes. We are really excited to have founded Alethiomics and to be recruiting an experienced and dynamic team, enabling us to translate our discoveries in novel target identification into precision medicines to improve the lifespan and quality of life for the patients we care for in the clinic.” 

The breakthrough potential of the founders’ research is underlined by the fact that work using TARGET-seq, led by Professor Mead, was selected for the Plenary Session at one of most prestigious scientific presentations in haematology; the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting1.

The seed financing will be used to establish Alethiomics’ research operations at the Oxford BioEscalator, to advance its pipeline of programmes in MPNs, and to industrialise the company’s proprietary TARGET-seq drug discovery and target prioritisation platform.

Claire Brown, PhD, MBA, Life Sciences Partner at Oxford Science Enterprises said:
“We are tremendously impressed by the unparalleled expertise in haematological cancer of Prof. Mead and Prof. Psaila, and their passion for bringing new therapies to the clinic to benefit patients. We look forward to building on their foundational discoveries and to developing clinical programmes and new therapies that deliver on the early promise of the technology.”

Co-founders, Adam and Beth, will act as consultants to Alethiomics and serve on the Scientific Advisory Board, whilst continuing to lead their research groups at the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford alongside their clinical practices in the Department of Haematology at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Chairman Dr Mark Throsby is a biopharmaceutical executive with extensive research experience and a track record of innovation and execution. He is an expert in antibody engineering and immunology with over two decades of commercial experience gained in pharma and biotech at Crucell NV and Merus NV. Alongside his role at Alethiomics he acts as COO/CSO of Gadeta BV and serves on the Board of Ona Therapeutics.

CSO Dr Ed Ainscow brings two decades of experience working on innovative approaches to early drug discovery in both pharma and biotech. He joins from Carrick Therapeutics Ltd where he has been Chief Technology Officer for the past five years.

Alethiomics foundational research has been supported by academic and charitable grants including the support of Cancer Research UK, which becomes a minority shareholder in the company.

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Last Updated: 15-Dec-2021