Promising ‘dark matter’ cancer therapy has clinical trials in sight
Amaroq Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focussed on developing a new class of therapeutics that target lncRNA in cancer, is progressing towards clinical trials following a promising initial development phase and securing key appointments to its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB).
Amaroq Therapeutics is pleased to announce early milestone achievements and the appointment of Prof David L. Spector (chair), Prof Sherene Loi, Prof Anna Pyle, and Dr Henrik Ørum as SAB members.
“We’re really fortunate to welcome four industry leading experts to our board. With a mixture of expertise in cancer research, RNA biology, drug development and clinical trials, Amaroq has never been better supported to progress our therapy to market,” says Dr Sarah Diermeier, Chief Scientific Officer and Founder, Amaroq Therapeutics.
“These appointments of industry leaders from the scientific community is a great show of confidence in our development of RNA therapy. This brings us much closer to clinical trials and delivering potentially life-changing treatment to patients with some of the most common cancers,” says Diermeier.
Amaroq Therapeutics is one of the world’s first companies exploring long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), often referred to as “dark matter” of the genome, for oncology application. Their newly bolstered team of experts are exploring the use of lncRNA molecules as therapeutic targets and diagnostic markers in the treatment of cancer.
Amaroq Therapeutics’ research has shown that specific lncRNA molecules are highly expressed in cancer cells but not in normal healthy cells. Removing these lncRNA molecules from cancer cells can slow down the process of the cells dividing.
“This gives us the very real hope that lncRNA molecules could hold the key for treating many common forms of cancer such as breast, colorectal and liver cancer,” says Diermeier. “The new generation of RNA therapeutics we develop could be the breakthrough treatment the world has been waiting for to treat cancers – one of the world’s most deadly and debilitating diseases.”
Led by Brandon Capital and supported by Otago Innovation Ltd, NZ Innovation Booster and Cure Kids Ventures, a total of $14m has been invested in Amaroq Therapeutics to date.
“We’re pleased to continue to support Amaroq Therapeutics towards clinical development, and the extremely high calibre of experience and expertise among their newly appointed board members speaks to the potential we all see in them as pioneers in RNA therapy. We’ll be watching with keen interest,” says Duncan Mackintosh, Senior Investment Manager with Brandon Capital.
New Amaroq SAB Board appointments:
Prof David L. Spector, Chair
David L. Spector, Ph.D., is a Professor and Director of Research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is co-leader of the Gene Regulation and Inheritance program of the National Cancer Institute designated Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center. In 2014 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and as a foreign Associate Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. In 2017 he was elected a Lifetime Fellow of the American Society of Cell Biology for Distinguished Contributions to the Advancement of Cell Biology.
Prof Sherene Loi
Sherene Loi is a Medical Oncologist specialized in breast cancer treatment and Group Leader at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia. She is recognized internationally as a leading clinician scientist whose work has led to new insights in the breast cancer immunology field, including an immune biomarker and formation of the TILs international working group. Professor Loi’s research is highly cited – she is ranked in the top 1% of highly cited researchers globally by the Web of Science since 2018. She co-chairs the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) based in Bern, Switzerland, which conducts breast cancer clinical trials in over 16 countries. She is the current holder of the Inaugural National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) of Australia Endowed Chair and a research fellow of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), New York.
Prof Anna Marie Pyle
Anna Marie Pyle is the Yale Sterling Professor in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Chemistry, and she is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr. Pyle formed her own research group in 1992 in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Columbia University Medical Center. In 2002, she moved to Yale University, where her group specializes in determining the structure and function of large RNA molecules and associated protein enzymes. Pyle is Past- President of the RNA Society, she is Vice-Chair of the Science and Technology Steering Committee for Brookhaven National Laboratory, and she is on the scientific advisory board of Arrakis Therapeutics and RADD Pharma.
Dr Henrik Ørum
Henrik Ørum brings more than 25 years of experience in every aspect of creating, building, leading and exiting successful biotechnology companies. Dr. Ørum started his biotech career at PNA Diagnostics A/S in 1993, serving as Chief Scientific Officer from 1993 to 1999. During his tenure, the company was sold to Boehringer Mannheim in 1994 and later to Hoffman-La Roche in 1997. In 1996, Dr. Ørum cofounded Exiqon A/S, a nucleic acid diagnostics company that was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 2007. In 2000, he co-founded Santaris Pharma A/S, where he served as Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President of business development until the company’s acquisition by Roche in 2014. In 2017 Dr. Ørum founded CiVi Biopharma Inc, where he serves as Chief Scientific Officer.
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About Amaroq Therapeutics
Amaroq Therapeutics is a New Zealand-based biotechnology company focussed on developing a new class of therapeutics that target lncRNAs in cancer.
Long non-coding RNAs are a relatively recently discovered class of molecules often referred to as “dark matter” of the human genome. These naturally occurring molecules do not code for proteins but fulfill important regulatory functions in the cell that could be exploited as a new therapeutic approach for multiple indications. Amaroq’s research team has discovered lncRNA molecules that are highly expressed in cancer cells, and once removed, cancer cell growth slows. Amaroq Therapeutics is developing innovative therapeutics to target lncRNAs for cancer treatment.
Amaroq Therapeutics is funded by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, managed by life science venture capital firm Brandon Capital Partners, Otago Innovation Ltd, University of Otago, Cure Kids, and NZ Innovation Booster. The Company has been spun out of research from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.
About Brandon BioCatalyst and Brandon Capital
Brandon Capital is Australasia’s leading life science venture capital firm, with a strong global presence supported by key partnerships and team members across the US and UK. From early-stage seed investment through to expansion capital, Brandon Capital supports life science companies from proof-of-concept through to commercialisation.
Managed by Brandon Capital, Brandon BioCatalyst is a unique collaboration of over 50 leading medical research institutes, investors, and government united by a single purpose: progressing the next generation of medical therapies and technology which improve health and save lives.