Celtic launches cancer therapeutics start-up with $50m investment


US biotech investor Celtic Therapeutics has injected $50m into the launch of ADC Therapeutics, a new Switzerland-based company formed with a pipeline of ten proprietary ADC oncology development programmes targeting major cancers.

ADCs are a new class of oncology drugs that combine antibodies with ‘warhead’ chemistries that aim to kill major cancers, including prostate, renal, breast, lung and blood cancers.

The company, which will be headquartered in Lausanne, will use compounds developed by Celtic portfolio business Spirogen, which makes cytotoxic warhead and linker chemistries for ADCs.

The business will compete with global players including Pfizer and Roche in the drug development market to produce safer therapies for the treatment of cancer.

“We believe that ADCs will represent a significant medical breakthrough in cancer therapy over the coming decade, and that Spirogen’s PBDs constitute ‘best-in-class’ ADC warheads,” said Stephen Evans-Freke, co-founder of Celtic Therapeutics.

“We anticipate investment of up to $50m into ADC Therapeutics to achieve clinical proof of concept in 2-3 lead oncology programmes. We are committed to fully fund ADC Therapeutics and will raise additional capital if warranted.”

Celtic Therapeutics was founded in 2007 by Stephen Evans-Freke and Dr Peter Corr, who retired from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in 2006. The firm acquires therapeutic products that have achieved proof of principle in human clinical studies.

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