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Cancer therapeutics biotech formation


A new company has been launched drawing on cancer biology research conducted by University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine group leader Professor Steven Pollard.

Cellinta Limited aims to develop new gene therapies to target various forms of cancer. It has been established through an investment by SV Health Investors and Cancer Research UK with the support of Edinburgh Innovations.

The investment will be used to build a pipeline of highly selective gene therapies targeting cancer stem cells in various types of solid tumours.

Steve Pollard is Professor of Stem Cell and Cancer Biology and is the scientific founder and senior adviser to the new company. The company draws his research across stem cell biology, synthetic biology and cancer genomics. He is a group leader at both the Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre and a member of the UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology.

Professor Steven Pollard, scientific founder and senior adviser,  Cellinta said, “ It’s an extremely exciting time in the gene therapy field.

“With Cellinta, we can ensure that our discoveries and technologies can now be rapidly developed into new therapeutics that can be used to treat aggressive cancers with high unmet need.”

Cellinta will be led by CEO Dr Soraya Bekkali, who has more than 20 years’ experience in drug development and business strategy, with a focus on gene therapy.

Dr Soraya Bekkali, CEO, Cellinta said, “ I am delighted to be leading such an exciting company.

“Cellinta’s approach offers the opportunity to deliver combinations of therapies selectively to cancer stem cells, bypassing the limitations of traditional treatments which often target single genes or redundant signalling pathways.”

Dr Bekkali said gene therapy can potentially overcome some of the drug delivery challenges encountered by past drug candidates.

The company has entered a collaborative research agreement with the University and has an option to license intellectual property developed at the University. The parties have been supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service.

Mike Ross, Managing Partner at London-based SV Health Investors, has been appointed Chairman of Cellinta.

He added, “ Cellinta represents a unique opportunity to build a leading company based on exciting and innovative science, with the potential to develop first-in-class therapies.

“We are delighted with the progress the company has made and extremely pleased to appoint Soraya, who has deep experience in gene therapy across various therapeutic areas, as CEO. We look forward supporting Cellinta in its progress as a pioneer in the field.”

The Centre for Regenerative Medicine is located on Edinburgh BioQuarter, co-located with the Royal Infirmary Hospital and the University of Edinburgh’s Clinical Research facilities so ideally placed to translate basic science into clinical therapies to advance human health, with particular strengths in cell and gene therapy.