BerGenBio Granted Wellcome Trust Award
BerGenBio AS has been granted a £1.6 million (NOK 16 million) Seeding Drug Discovery Award from the UK's Wellcome Trust to develop novel small molecule inhibitors against BGB002, its proprietary, novel cancer target.
The Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Awards are to identify and fund especially promising, innovative new therapeutic concepts through to clinical implementation and applications are highly competitive.
BGB002 is a novel cancer target identified by BerGenBio, which controls tumour cell malignant features. This gene is up-regulated in several cancer types including the difficult to treat malignancies such as triple-negative-breast cancer. Using its CellSelect™ technology, BerGenBio demonstrated that BGB002 strongly activates tumour cell Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), a precursor to metastatic spread. Subsequent target validation studies demonstrated BGB002's unique and pivotal role in mediating EMT, facilitating the escape of transformed cells and engendering resistance to standard of care anti-cancer regimens.
BerGenBio holds patent applications on BGB002 and is developing novel selective small molecule inhibitors to the target with Sygnature Discovery Ltd, the UK's largest independent service provider of integrated drug discovery, with expertise in medicinal chemistry, in vitro bioscience, computational chemistry and informatics.
The Award, which is made in the form of a convertible loan, will fund the next phase of the Company's BGB002 development project over the next 12 months.
Richard Godfrey, Chief Executive Officer of BerGenBio, commented:
"The receipt of this Wellcome Trust Seeding Drug Discovery Award is a tremendous achievement and a solid endorsement both for BerGenBio's expertise in identifying key molecular drivers of aggressive drug resistant cancers and for our ability to translate these discoveries into viable drug candidates. I am particularly proud of the successful collaborative effort by our staff and the team at Sygnature. They work exceptionally well together and provide complementary skill sets. Scientists from BerGenBio and Sygnature worked co-operatively across their respective sites to assemble a highly compelling application and successfully co-presented the project at the final evaluation stage.
"The Wellcome Trust receives hundreds of applications for this type of funding and grants just a few awards each year to projects with outstanding science and innovation that are working to address a substantial unmet medical need.
"This funding will aid in our research and development effort to uncover novel small molecule therapeutics to treat aggressive, resistant cancers."