Our priority areas of therapeutic focus are cancer and women’s health.
We are focused on finding better treatments for difficult-to-treat types of cancer. Many cancer treatments use traditional approaches such as chemotherapy, which, while they extend patient survival, also bring high side effect burdens and complex combination treatment regimens.
Whilst individualised treatments and target therapies have improved outcomes for some types of cancer, many types of cancer have insufficient treatment options and rely on drugs that have remained unchanged for decades.
By targeting precise biological mechanisms, we aim to improve the patient experience in terms of both survival and quality of life.
VAL201 in prostate cancer
VAL201 is a short peptide being studied for the treatment of prostate cancer. The peptide structure is inspired by the structure of the naturally occurring androgen receptor and is designed to intercept and prevent the binding of the androgen receptor to SRC kinase; an enzyme implicated in cancerous cell growth pathways. By preventing the androgen-mediated activation of SRC kinase, VAL201 can prevent cancerous cell proliferation (or growth) without interfering with other functions of the androgen receptor or SRC kinase. This precision method, mimicking a natural process, proposes a high specificity of cancer treatment, with a lower side effect profile.
VAL201 has recently completed a Phase 1/2 clinical trial in the UK, investigating the effects of different dose levels of the drug to establish the safety, tolerability and first indications of disease impact.
VAL401 in adenocarcinoma
VAL401 is the reformulation of the established anti-psychotic drug risperidone. Formulated into a lipid-filled capsule for oral, once daily administration, VAL401 enables an anti-cancer activity, via cancer cell metabolism enzyme, Hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase type 10 (HSD10), not seen with conventional risperidone.
VAL401 has completed a pilot Phase 2 clinical trial, treating patients with end-stage non-small cell lung cancer. These patients demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in overall survival from diagnosis over case-matched control patients in the same clinics; and showed improvements in quality of life during treatment.
Identifying quality of life improvement in nausea, pain and appetite, has identified pancreatic adenocarcinoma to be a preferred disease to assess in the next clinical trial of VAL401.
Endometriosis is a gynaecological medical condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) appear and grow outside the uterine cavity. This growth fluctuates in a pattern alongside the menstrual cycle, under the influence of female hormones.
These misplaced endometrial-like cells are influenced by hormonal changes and respond in a way that is similar to the cells found inside the uterus; hence symptoms often worsen with the menstrual cycle.
The treatments chosen will depend on symptoms, age, and lifestyle plans, currently centring around pain relief and hormone suppression; the latter leading to potential infertility and bone weakening side effects.
VAL301 in endometriosis
VAL301 presents an opportunity to suppress hormone-driven cellular growth in the absence of outright hormone suppression. By interrupting only the hormone driven cell growth while sparing the other hormone activities, the infertility and related side effects are expected to be avoided.
Currently in preclinical testing, this theoretical benefit will be looked for in future trials.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV2 is the causative pathogenic virus of Covid-19. This highly contagious virus causes Acute Respiratory Distress (ARDS) in many patients, which can lead to hospitalisation and death.
The pandemic was declared in March 2020, and the world is now fully aware of the prevalence and serious nature of the virus.
Patients displaying ARDS can respond well to supportive treatment including administration of positive pressures of oxygen, however, despite this, a proportion still go on to experience more severe symptoms.
These symptoms are believed to be caused by the significant, multi-organ damage that can be caused by an excessive response of the immune system, even after the viral infection has reduced. This is known as a hyperimmune response.
BC201 is a combination of the peptide ingredient of VAL201/VAL301 with complementary active components to dampen this excessive immune response and consequently improve severe symptoms of Covid-19.
The theoretical action of the peptide is two-fold: by blocking the Androgen Receptor mediated activity of SRC Kinase, the peptide is postulated to down-regulate the expression of TMPRSS2 a transmembrane protein believed to be required for Coronavirus cell entry; and by directly dampening the immune response.