Diverse approach to SUPPORTING Oncology INNOVATION
Drugs that stop DNA damage repair in cancer cells
Trispecific T-Cell engagers
Antibiotics that bring immune cells (T cells) in close contact with cancer cells
Antibody-drug conjugates deliver toxic chemicals to cancer cells
Virus particle that binds cancer cells and kills them when activated with a laser
Engineered CAR-T Cells
Patient immune cells (T-cells) engineered to target and kill cancer cells
Although there has been steady innovation in the development of new therapies for a range of diseases over the past 20 years, the pace of progress has arguably been highest in oncology (the study and treatment of cancers). Despite this sustained innovation there remains a significant need for effective therapies that can improve health outcomes and survival for many of the >100 known types of cancer, which still collectively account for c.9.6 million deaths each year globally according to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018).
The improvement in our understanding of the biology of cancer, and the increasing availability of data (e.g. genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) have led to several major new approaches in cancer treatment such as immune-oncology (harnessing patients' immune systems to fight cancer) and precision medicine (using patient-specific data such as mutations to tailor therapy to individuals).
Immunotherapies have delivered durable responses across a broad range of cancers and there are two approved CAR-T therapies (engineered T-cells from patients) for blood cancers. The most widely used precision medicine approaches for cancer include drugs that target specific mutations or genetic aberrations present in a subset of patients, for example including areas such as lung, breast, skin and colorectal cancers.
There has also been substantial innovation around drug types in development for cancer, going well beyond the small molecule drugs that have been standard of care for the past 100 years. Technological innovation has resulted in novel modalities such as engineered cell therapy, tumour targeting viruses, antibody-drug conjugates, multispecific antibodies and more. This provides an even broader range of approaches that can deliver clinical benefit for patients as new modalities may be effective for pursuing drug targets that were intractable with small molecule approaches in the past.
Exciting advances in cancer drug development are often made in R&D stage biotechnology companies, and the pace of innovation in oncology is reflected in the flow of oncology opportunities seen by Arix Bioscience. The investment team reviewed >400 investment opportunities in 2018 alone and has been well placed to evaluate and select the highest quality opportunities in cancer treatment innovation, while ensuring that the portfolio is balanced across multiple approaches in the pursuit to tackle cancer. This approach maximises Arix's exposure to cutting-edge technologies while minimising the risk that some approaches will be more effective than others.