Startups, Venture

Medicxi kickstarts a new cancer drug developer with $19M launch round

After seeding work for a new cancer therapy in the lab of University of Toronto professor Patrick Gunning, Medicxi is stepping up with a $19 million launch round to kickstart a new biotech charged with taking their approach into the clinic.

Patrick Gunning

Gunning has been doing considerable work on STAT3 and STAT5, an abbreviation for the signal transducer and activator of transcription proteins that play a role in driving the development of cancer. In his published work, Gunning has linked STAT3, for example, for its role in promoting tumor growth and drug resistance in glioblastoma.

Janpix will be working on putting a brake on that process.

Working out of Cambridge, MA under the guiding hand of Medicxi adviser Roman Fleck, the startup Janpix will look to become a recognized player with an inhibitor that can play a role in the tumor microenvironment — a hot field in oncology — where Gunning says STAT3 and STAT5 inhibitors demonstrate real promise in blood, brain and breast cancers.

According to a report from the University of Toronto, Janpix plans to enter the clinic in 18 to 24 months.

Giovanni Mariggi, a principal at Medicxi and board member of Janpix, noted:

Janpix has made great progress in developing tractable compounds that inhibit these difficult-to-target proteins. The role of STATs in multiple tumour types is supported by vast data and the emerging evidence of their role in tumour immunity adds an extra dimension to the potential impact these new drugs could have on patients.

With some major league backing from J&J, GlaxoSmithKline and more recently Novartis and Verily, Medicxi has been stepping up its biotech game around the world. It’s known for a lean-and-mean approach to drug development, with a tough-minded approach to killing off whatever doesn’t pan out as quickly as possible.



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