Leiden, 26 November 2020 – BIMINI Biotech, an innovative therapeutics startup that develops new cancer drugs, has secured an investment of €200,000 from proof-of-concept fund UNIIQ to further develop its technology. The company aims to use the growth hormone receptor to uniquely inhibit cancer cell growth. The investment was announced digitally by Ida Haisma, director of Leiden Bio Science Park.
BIMINI’s technology is based on pioneering research by Professor Ger Strous at UMC Utrecht and has shown promising results in the preclinical phase. The startup recently moved to Leiden to continue preclinical research and make the transition to the clinical phase.
Mimicking nature as seen in Laron syndrome
Human growth hormone (GH) modulates cellular metabolism, leading to cell growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration. GH also stimulates the production and secretion of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in many tissues. GH and IGF-1 both promote cell proliferation and suppress apoptosis.
The scientific literature and numerous animal studies and retrospective human studies indicate that this GH/IGF-1 axis plays an important role in cancer development. Overexpression of the axis in various types of cancer leads to explosive cellular growth, with cells triggering growth in themselves or surrounding cells. The GH/IGF-1 axis is therefore the ideal target for anti-cancer drug development.
Using this axis as a target, BIMINI’s strategy is based on a new mechanism that renders the growth hormone receptor dysfunctional. This approach elegantly mimics nature by making cells less sensitive to growth hormone as seen in Laron syndrome (a specific type of dwarfism). People with this condition, characterised by growth hormone receptor deficiency, have been found to be resistant to diseases like cancer.
Three small molecules (BM001-003) have been identified and patented by BIMINI, of which BM001 is the lead compound currently being used in the preclinical phase. This compound has shown, both in vitro and in vivo, promising anti-cancer effects for different types of cancer.
Drug discovery platform
The GH/IGF-1 axis is not only involved in cancer development but in other areas too, including metabolic disorders and the ageing process. This innovative approach may therefore prove applicable to other indications in the future. Indeed, BIMINI aims to develop a drug discovery platform around the GH/IGF-1 axis and aspires to become a leading innovator in growth hormone receptor-based therapeutics.
The startup will use UNIIQ’s capital injection for additional in vivo efficacy studies as well as for toxicological and ADME experiments, while further strengthening its IP position and organisational development.
Digvijay Gahtory, CEO of BIMINI Biotech: “We can use UNIIQ’s investment to conduct experiments that will be essential for bridging the gap to Series A funding and thus bring our innovative technology one step closer to patients.”
Hans Dreijklufft, fund manager at UNIIQ: “To improve prognosis and life expectancy, it is fundamental that new therapeutics reach cancer patients. BIMINI’s innovative technology has the potential to make a big difference. We are therefore very happy to invest in the company. We have a lot of faith in its team and are convinced that BIMINI Biotech is a strong addition to the Leiden ecosystem.”
Note for press
For more information on this topic, please contact:
Thijs van den Munckhof
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Over the past 10 years, the life expectancy of a large portion of patients with metastatic cancer has improved by only one month. BIMINI Biotech wants to change this. The company is an innovative spin-off of UMC Utrecht based on pioneering research by Professor Ger Strous and aims to develop a portfolio of novel cancer therapeutics. BIMINI Biotech was founded in 2019 and is located in Leiden, the Netherlands.
UNIIQ is a €22 million investment fund focused on the proof-of-concept phase, which helps entrepreneurs in West Holland bring their unique innovation to market faster. UNIIQ offers entrepreneurs the seed capital to achieve their plans and bridge the riskiest phase from concept to promising business. A consortium, including Erasmus MC, TU Delft, Leiden University and the regional development agency InnovationQuarter, created the fund. UNIIQ is made possible by the European Union, the Province of South Holland and the municipalities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Leiden. InnovationQuarter is responsible for the fund management.