The vast majority of tumors show activation of Myc, a protein that bonds with DNA and switches on the expression of one or more genes. "When I was a student everyone told me that Myc couldn’t be treated and shouldn’t even be touched." Dr. Laura Soucek's research seems to have taken down this hypothesis.
This is why she founded Peptomyc in 2014, a spin-off of ICREA and the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) that has developed peptides against Myc, which is central and necessary to the survival of cancer cells, but not normal tissue.
Peptomyc aims to provide cancer patients with new therapies that are more effective and less toxic than current ones. Through a synergy with her colleague and Peptomyc’s co-founder Dr. Marie-Eve Beaulieu, they have developed Omomyc-derived peptides that can penetrate cancer cells and attack Myc. "Our goal at Peptomyc is to demonstrate their safety and efficacy in patients as soon as possible."
It wasn't really my plan. It simply turned out to be the most logical decision in order to translate 20 years of effort in research into a real therapeutic opportunity for cancer patients. In my view, scientific entrepreneurs are a great asset for society. Since I was a student, I have been interested in the unique role of Myc in cancer and I thought that attacking it would be an excellent strategy in cancer treatment, but I was also told that inhibiting Myc was too difficult and potentially dangerous for normal tissue. However, nobody had really tried!
This is why I designed Omomyc, the best Myc inhibitor known to date, and together with valued colleagues and collaborators over the years, I demonstrated that Myc inhibition has a dramatic therapeutic impact on cancer and very mild side effects in normal tissue. Since then, I set my mind on making Omomyc into a drug available to cancer patients.
I believe that the smartest thing one can do (not just in my field) is to recognize their own limits and build a team that can compensate for their shortcomings. Peptomyc is really a multidisciplinary team and I am extremely proud of having been able to recruit so many excellent people to accomplish our dream. We are also lucky to be able to have a wonderful scientific advisory board, including eminent oncologists around the world: Dr. Josep Tabernero, Dr. Josep Baselga, Dr. Enriqueta Felip and Dr. Roger Stupp.
To keep an open mind in every negotiation and every step of the company’s development. Indeed, listening to all options before judging or making a decision turned out to be an extremely valuable strategy.
This year we are looking for a more ambitious round of investment that will allow us to complete CMC and the regulatory phase, and to begin clinical trials by the end of 2018. To reach this important milestone, we need approximately €9 millions.