INDUSTRIAL IMPACT

Cyclica launches Perturba Therapeutics, a spin out from the University of Toronto, creating the next-generation oncology biotech

Cyclica Inc. | February 10, 2022

Cyclica launches
Cyclica Inc. a neo-biotech with the vision to advance the most robust and sustainable drug discovery pipeline, launches Perturba Therapeutics Inc. a spin out from the Stagljar Lab at the University of Toronto, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research. Perturba is advancing a rich pipeline of assets from undrugged protein-protein interactions (PPIs).

Only a small subset of biologically important drug targets are currently being explored within the pharma industry. Perturba is taking this challenge on by integrating Cyclica’s comprehensive AI-augmented proteome-wide drug design technology with two first-in-class live cell-based assays from the Stagljar Lab. With this integrated AI-augmented drug design and empirical phenotypic approach, Perturba is developing precision therapies that modulate PPIs and PPI-mediated biological processes with a focus on difficult-to-treat cancers. Perturba will initially focus on advancing two EGFR triple mutant inhibitors for non-small cell lung cancer, and four programs targeting small GTPases for various intractable cancers.

Naheed Kurji, Co-Founder, CEO and President of Cyclica indicates that “More than half of all human disease-related proteins are considered undruggable using conventional approaches. As a result, patients suffering from life threatening diseases are left waiting for treatment. What others view as “undruggable”, we see as potential. Perturba represents an important franchise in the pursuit of our cancer strategy. We’re so excited to partner with Professor Stagljar and the world class Stagljar Lab in driving forward our shared vision.”

"over the past two years, my lab has developed two high impact, live cell-based technologies for studying protein-protein interactions and identifying novel drug molecules – MaMTH-DS and SIMPL. Combining these two technologies with Cyclica’s world-class AI-drug design approach will usher in a new way to conduct drug discovery for highly intractable targets in an unprecedented way at scale. I’ve known Naheed and the team at Cyclica for years and jointly have shown multiple proof points using our platforms with a program targeting an osimertinib resistant EGFR triple mutant that we will be progressing in Perturba, and a program targeting an oncogenic KRAS in a separate collaboration that gave us confidence to target other small GTPases in Perturba.”

Dr. Igor Stagljar, Professor at University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Principal Investigator at the Donnelly Centre

Seasoned drug developer Rick Panicucci, PhD, SVP at BridgeBio Pharma and a long time advisor at Cyclica has been appointed as non-executive Chairman of Perturba to help oversee the company's strategy. Su Dharmawardhane Flanagan, PhD, Tony Hunter, PhD and Ming Tsao, MD, have been appointed to Perturba’s Scientific Advisory Board. Cyclica will provide initial funding for Perturba and will seek external funding from strategic partners as required.

“I’ve been involved in drug discovery & development for over 25 years. What I can say with certainty is that the way things will be done going forward is going to be very different from how it was done before. I’ve been an advisor at Cyclica for 6 years and have witnessed first hand the power of AI and data-first approaches to drive drug discovery fast and with quality. Now, with Perturba and integrating AI drug design and phenotypic assays opens a whole new way of design-make-test-analyze at scale for target classes that have been ignored for too long,” shares Panicucci.

About Perturba
An integrated oncology focused biotech company for unaddressable and undrugged targets. Founded in 2021 as a venture between Cyclica and the Stagljar Lab at the University of Toronto, Perturba integrates Cyclica’s AI-augmented drug discovery platform with sensitive, live-cell drug screening assays, MaMTH-DS and SIMPL from the Stagljar lab. Perturba is developing precision therapies at scale that modulate PPIs and PPI-mediated biological processes.

About Cyclica
Cyclica advances molecules that embrace the complexity of disease. A neo-biotech whose work spans dozens of collaborations with large pharma, biotech and several joint ventures. We are a passionate team of biotech and pharma professionals, biologists, chemists, and computer scientists who live and labour at the intersection of our collective expertise. 

About the Stagljar Lab and the Donnelly Centre
The Stagljar lab at the University of Toronto is one of the world leading labs in the field of proteomics/chemical genomics, developing high-throughput technologies to facilitate the study of the protein-protein interactions (PPIs) of various human membrane proteins involved in cancer and rare genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis. The Stagljar lab is currently directing major proteomics/chemical genomics projects to map how integral membrane proteins interact to produce either healthy or diseased cells, to identify novel therapeutic targets, and to screen for novel drugs using artificial intelligence platforms, in particular to target lung, colon, breast and pancreatic cancer. In close collaboration with medicinal chemists and clinical investigators, the Stagljar lab investigates the molecular mechanisms behind challenging, unexplained observations on drugs and on pathological events.

Spotlight

Biotech companies are breaking down silos across their counterparts in healthcare to drive more precise, improved outcomes and shared value. Couple this with more than 25 patent expirations on the horizon from 2018-19 and the FDA’s heightened focus on encouraging competition and the result is a boost in research and development (R&D) and bustling deal activity across the industry.

Spotlight

Biotech companies are breaking down silos across their counterparts in healthcare to drive more precise, improved outcomes and shared value. Couple this with more than 25 patent expirations on the horizon from 2018-19 and the FDA’s heightened focus on encouraging competition and the result is a boost in research and development (R&D) and bustling deal activity across the industry.

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