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12 December, 2012 - 09:09 By News Desk

Japanese giant invests in Cambridge biotech

Bicycle Therapeutics CEO, Rolf Günther

Japanese VC giant Astellas Venture Management has pitched into a £3.75 million funding round to boost the global growth plans of Cambridge UK biotherapeutics technology business Bicycle Therapeutics.

The cash is being invested in selection of drug candidates using the company’s bicyclic peptide technology platform.

Bicycle, founded by MedTech luminary Sir Greg Winter and Professor Christian Heinis, has developed a proprietary technology that enables the discovery of a new class of drug candidates with antibody-like selectivity and specificity that can be manufactured with economics similar to new chemical entities.

The company is applying the technology to drug discovery projects in oncology, metabolic and inflammatory diseases and will also make the platform accessible for collaborative discovery with pharma partners.

CEO Rolf Günther said the investment round would prove transitional for the Babraham Research Campus company as it expanded its drug discovery effort.

He said: “This financing marks our transition from technology development to drug discovery, using our bicyclic peptide libraries, high throughput screening and lead optimisation technology. We are now expanding our discovery efforts to address multiple drug target classes.

“We welcome Astellas Venture Management as a new strategic investor, further endorsing the potential of our platform.”

Current investors, Atlas Venture, Novartis Venture Fund, SR One and SV Life Sciences were joined by Astellas Venture Management, the venture capital arm of Astellas Pharma. Launched in April 2005, Astellas was formed through the historical merger of Japan's third and fifth largest pharmaceutical companies - Yamanouchi, founded in 1923, and Fujisawa, founded in 1894.

Sakae Asanuma, President & CEO of Astellas Venture Management LLC, said: “We are extremely excited to be part of Bicycle’s promising innovation. Bicycle’s unique proprietary platform technology, which generates a new modality of peptide therapeutics, has enormous potential that can benefit the entire healthcare community.”

• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Bicycle Therapeutics CEO, Rolf Günther

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