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New University spin-out Sulantrix targeting untapped pseudoenzymes for new cancer medicines

A new University of Liverpool spin-out drug discovery company, Sulantrix (pseu-lan-tricks), is exploring new medicines targeting cancer in which previously untapped classes of pseudoenzymes are key.

Professor Patrick Eyers, co-founder, Chief Scientific Officer and Professor of Cell Signalling at the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology (ISMIB), is leading the science as they seek to integrate personalised approaches to medicine in order to develop breakthrough medicines in cancer.

David Williams, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer has over 37 years’ experience taking drugs from discovery through to the market in both Pharma and Biotech and is a seasoned entrepreneur having founded and successfully exited from 3 previous Biotechnology companies as well as having instigated and completed over $5B in collaborative deals. An impressive international advisory board has been assembled, which will be announced in due course.

The company has been set up with founder capital and University Enterprise Investment Funding and is aiming to raise multi-million-pound funding in 2023/24 to expand its operations and progress multiple programmes towards the clinic.

David Williams, Sulantrix CEO said: “I’ve been unfortunate enough to have witnessed many friends and family ravaged by the effects of untreatable cancers. We’ve created Sulantrix now, because both our biological understanding and technical ability have reached the critical point which we believe now allows us to ‘drug’ specific pseudoenzymes and make an enormous impact in the creation of successful oncology treatments in areas where there is unmet need. Such areas include treatment-refractory triple negative breast cancer and cancers currently resistant to other medicines.”

Pseudoenzymes are catalytically inactive, in that they do not appear to function as enzymes in cells. Sulantrix is particularly focussed on pseudokinases, special types of protein kinase that have evolved non-enzyme functions and which can become dysregulated in diseases, such as many of the hardest-to-treat cancers. The team are using state-of-the-art multi-omics platforms for new discoveries and target validation, as well as high-throughput screening, cheminformatics and AI-based technologies.

Patrick Eyers, Sulantrix CSO commented: “Until recently, pseudokinases were somewhat of an enigma in human biology. However, their unique control functions in normal cells appear to be subverted in specific diseases, making them very attractive drug targets for specific patients. Sulantrix are putting patients at the centre of everything we do by leveraging decades of experience evaluating and drugging ‘kinases’, the enzymatically active cousins of pseudokinases, in order to find new ways to treat naïve and drug-resistant cancers”.

Professor Anthony Hollander, Chair of the Enterprise Board and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Impact also commented: “This exciting opportunity was attractive to us because of the management team and their commitment to developing new drugs in an important clinical area. We are pleased to be in a position to support Sulantrix via the Enterprise Investment Fund, and we look forward to following their progress.”

Sulantrix is open for business in ISMIB, where Dr Emma Fairweather (Screening and Assay Development Bioscientist) is employing innovative screening approaches to develop new therapeutic candidates that we believe can rapidly progress to clinical trials in specific patient markets. It will be moving to new research premises in 2023.

Find out more about commercialising research and spin-out companies at the University of Liverpool.

Staff at the University of Liverpool can find out more about applying to the University’s Enterprise Investment Fund here and more details about commercialising your research on the IP Commercialisation intranet.