Iceni Pharma (formerly Big DNA)

Cancer therapeutics business developing small molecule cancer therapies using a novel delivery and drug activation technology.

Iceni Pharma was initially established as a vaccine development company but has moved its commercial focus into developing a novel type of cancer therapeutic drug, which it is optimising. This project aims to take two well-characterised components (proteasome inhibitors & targeting peptides) and utilize them in an innovative way to create a fundamentally new class of de-risked product. Preliminary testing in vitro and in animal
models has yielded very positive results and the compound class has been accepted by the National Cancer Institute’s Developmental Therapeutics Programme (NCI DTP) for further testing and development. Patents are being submitted in the US and Europe to secure broad formulation and methods of use protection. Whilst novel, the compounds and combination therapies are based upon pre-existing technologies (Cilengitide and Velcade) and the company believes that a rapid route through clinical development is possible.

Proteasome inhibitors are currently used to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, and whilst effective, suffer from serious shortcomings, including non-specific toxicity, a narrow therapeutic window, very high cost, development of drug resistance and interference from dietary-derived compounds which limit their use. The modifications made by Iceni Pharma appear to address all of these issues whilst expanding the types of cancers for which this drug class may work. Successful development will open up business opportunities in an expanded patient population within both proven indications (currently multiple myeloma) and in indications that are not currently treatable with existing drugs.