Spirea Limited, a University of Cambridge spin-out company created to advance a new generation of antibody drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics, has secured funding of £2.4 million.

The investment was co-led by Cambridge Enterprise and Jonathan Milner, founder and former CEO of Abcam. Spirea will use the funds to initiate its pipeline of superior and differentiated ADCs in the treatment of solid tumours, where there is a high unmet need.

ADCs combine the cell-killing activity of cytotoxic drugs with the cancer-targeting capability of monoclonal antibodies. The ADC concept has been exemplified with approved products. Many ADC programmes have, however, failed to progress through clinical development because of dose-limiting toxicities, restricted efficacy, and limitations in the range of treatable cancers.

Spirea’s technology allows more cytotoxic drug to be attached to the targeting antibody. This higher drug-to-antibody ratio means more drug hits the cancer cell. Spirea’s approach allows the development of stable and tailored ADCs, incorporating a variety of drug payloads at varying levels of potency and different modes-of-action. By delivering the right amount of the right drug to the right cells, Spirea’s technology will unlock a new generation of accessible, powerful, and well-tolerated medicines for the treatment of a wide range of cancers.

Spirea was founded by Dr Myriam Ouberai, following her research at The Nanoscience Centre.

We welcome our new investors and thank our existing investors for their continuing confidence in Spirea. With our novel approach to building ADC therapeutics, we aim to radically improve the treatment options for patients with hard-to-treat cancers. Having shown the flexibility and strength of our technology, we look forward to the next exciting stage in the development of Spirea’s ADC pipeline and to building significant strategic partnerships.

Myriam Ouberai, CEO, Spirea

This is an exciting time for Spirea and we are pleased to be supporting them with this further investment. Spirea’s innovative antibody drug conjugate technology is highly differentiated, and we believe it holds great value and potential to lead developments in the field of cancer therapeutics.

Christine Martin, Head, Seed Funds

Spirea has overcome many of the hurdles commonly associated with antibody drug conjugate therapeutics. By developing a highly customisable platform where drug payloads and targets can be altered as needed, the Company is revealing the true potential of ADCs as a cancer cell specific, highly effective therapeutic option for a wide range of cancers.

Jonathan Milner, Founder, Abcam ; CEO, Meltwind Advisory