University of Cambridge spin out PolyProx Therapeutics has announced it has raised £3.4m of seed capital, led by Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), RT Capital and Cambridge Enterprise.

The funding will be used to support research operations attempting to validate the technology it uses to create a new class of cancer drugs over the next two years.

These novel therapeutics, called Polyproxin molecules, they rely on protein scaffolds to selectively target disease-causing proteins in tumour cells and trigger natural degradation process to halt tumour growth.

PolyProx believes this new therapeutic approach, which is based on over a decade of research in protein folding and stability, could address previously untreatable cancer targets, such as lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancers.

PolyProx Therapeutics chief scientific officer and founder Professor Laura Itzhaki: “We are thrilled to have closed the seed round, and this will enable us to grow the PolyProx team and further develop our technology over the next two years.

“Our platform, which harnesses the cell’s natural protein degradation pathways, should allow access to many hard-to-drug targets and enable screening of molecules against these targets more quickly than existing approaches.

“We are excited to continue the discovery process in our labs at the Babraham Research Campus as we enter the next phase of our development.”

CIC principal Sohaib Mir: “PolyProx’s technology offers the potential to broaden the druggable proteome, thereby encompassing a range of highly validated therapeutic targets for which there are no existing drugs.

“This exciting new company, underpinned by world-class science and deep intellectual property, is characteristic of businesses emanating from the Cambridge ecosystem. We look forward to working with PolyProx’s experienced team as the company advances.”

Cambridge Enterprise investment manager Christine Martin said: “It is exciting to help spin out Professor Itzhaki’s outstanding and impactful research from the University.

“This is a great technology that is poised to address the elusive ‘difficult to drug’ section of the proteome to ultimately bring patient benefit.”