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Belgian biotech by Pharma expert gets €5.65M capital injection to treat lung cancer 

Image credits: DeuterOncology

In both men and women worldwide, lung cancer (small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer. Thus, many scientists and research organisations are working to improve lung cancer detection and treatment.  

Based out of Liege, a city in Belgium, DeuterOncology, is a clinical-stage drug development company working to advance in this field. Now the Belgian startup has raised €5.65M in a Series A funding round financing from Belgian VC Newton Biocapital, Noshaq (who also backed Eclo and LiveDrop), and Investsud Tech.

As per the company press release, DeuterOncology will use the funds to start the Phase I clinical study for its lead product, DO-2, an improved MET kinase inhibitor which is being developed to treat lung cancer.

Timothy Perera, founder and CEO of DeuterOncology said, “We are grateful for the continued guidance and financial support of Newton Biocapital as well as the new investments from Noshaq and Investsud Tech. This new funding will enable us to translate the strong preclinical data package into the clinic, validate DO-2 as a best-in-class MET kinase inhibitor, and identify a recommended phase II dose. The clinical study (EudraCT 2022-001681-35) is now open for recruitment of biomarker-selected patients at two trial sites in Belgium (with Prof Jean-Pascal Machiels and Dr. Rachel Galot, Cliniques universitaires Saint-Luc, UCLouvain Brussels, and Prof Hans Prenen, UZA Antwerp) and one site in the Netherlands (with Dr. Debbie Robbrecht, Erasmus MC Rotterdam). We expect to obtain phase I results by Q2, 2024.”

Targeted cancer therapies

Founded in 2020 by Timothy Perera, who has more than 30 years global large and small Pharma experience in Target Identification, Drug Discovery and Development – DeuterOncology is a clinical-stage biotech company focusing on developing a first-in-class dual MET and RAS pathway inhibitor for targeted cancer therapies. 

Patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) harboring MET exon 14 skipping mutations can now take MET inhibitors. However, the company claims most of them suffer from poor tolerability. As a result, it leads to frequent dose reductions and interruptions that result in suboptimal target inhibition and therapy resistance. 

Consequently, it requires maximum tolerated clinical doses to achieve efficacious exposures. But these high daily doses cause the formation of increased levels of inactive metabolite(s) that continue to impart toxic effects. 

Why DO-2?

According to the manufacturer, DO-2 overcomes this at source by replacing a metabolically liable hydrogen atom with a stronger bond strength deuterium atom. 

The company has also generated preclinical validation of its lead candidate DO-2, a novel, highly selective, brain penetrant deuterated MET and RAS pathway inhibitor that was inlicensed from OCTIMET Oncology NV and originally licensed in 2017 from Janssen Pharmaceutica. 

Els Hubloux, partner at Newton Biocapital Partners, said, “We are delighted to continue to support DeuterOncology in its ambition to create a potential best-in-class targeted therapy for lung cancer patients. We are very impressed with the company’s progress so far and look forward to continuing the journey with DeuterOncology as it evaluates its lead program in a first-in-human trial.”

Eric Brandt, investment manager at Noshaq, said, “DeuterOncology is developing a cutting-edge approach to taking oncology drugs to the next level in terms of safety and efficacy to bring to market some disruptive treatments for different types of cancers. Current results are promising, and we look forward to confirming the potential of DO-2 with the first-in-human clinical trial. Noshaq is also pleased to welcome the company into its local ecosystem, which offers a strong scientific environment, especially in the oncology field.”

Pierre Detrixhe, the partner at Investsud, said, “At Investsud Tech, we are very pleased to be part of this syndication led by Newton Biocapital, which enables DeuterOncology to test its best-in-class MET kinase inhibitor in the clinic. The process of replacement of hydrogen with deuterium seems to be a very smart approach to reducing the issues presented by the MET inhibitors already on the market. We hope the clinical data package will be as strong as the preclinical package.”

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