Turkish biotech bags $12M for targeted delivery of cancer drugs

Turkey’s biotech scene has a new star: RS Research. The startup has reeled in $12 million in series A cash to fund development of candidates based on a targeted delivery system for chemotherapeutic agents. 

RS Research is built on Sagitta, a platform designed to get high doses of cytotoxic molecules to tumors without causing the side effects and dose-limiting toxicities associated with conventional administration of the drugs. If RS Research is right, the polymer-drug conjugates will remain linked to their carriers until they are delivered into cancer cells under the guidance of a targeting component.

The concept, a spin on the more established antibody-drug conjugate modality, has attracted support from investors. RS Research’s series A round was led by Turkish pharmaceutical company GEN Ilaç with assists from OneLife Ventures and Eczacıbaşı Momentum. 

Armed with the cash, RS Research plans to expand its clinical pipeline. The biotech currently has one drug, a potential treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, in phase 1 development in Turkey.

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“We aim to launch two more new phase 1 trials with our drug candidates in our portfolio and to move our drug candidate, which is currently undergoing a phase 1 clinical trial, to phase 2,” RS Research co-founder Sena Nomak told Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.

RS Research’s pipeline includes other indications for lead candidate RS-0139, namely breast and prostate cancers, and other preclinical assets targeting ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The candidates are based on the idea that the targeted delivery of cytotoxic agents can improve the side effect profile and efficacy of drug molecules.