Company News: SUPPRESTEM Consortium Led by Merus Receives € 6 Million FP7 Grant from the European Union
– Development of Therapeutic Bispecific Antibodies (Biclonics™) Targeting Treatment-resistant Cancer Stem Cells Using Patient-Derived Organoid Screening Tools –
Utrecht, The Netherlands, May 27, 2013 – Merus B.V., a biopharmaceutical company focusing on innovative human antibody therapeutics, today announced that it has been granted funding from the European Union’s FP7 program. Merus is leading the SUPPRESSTEM consortium which was granted a total of about €6 million to develop novel antibody-based therapeutics targeting cancer stem cells for the treatment of colorectal cancer as well as patient-derived organoid-based screening tools to aid drug discovery. The consortium includes The Hubrecht Institute (The Netherlands), OcellO B.V. (The Netherlands), Fundacio Privada Institut de Recerca Biomedica (Spain), and The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (UK).
Specifically, the consortium is addressing mechanisms that lead to the development of treatment resistance and tumor escape in colon cancer, a problem that has hampered the development of efficient therapeutics in the past. Furthermore, it is pioneering the application of patient-derived tissue in drug discovery to address the high clinical failure rate in cancer drug research. It is hoped that the SUPPRESSTEM results will have broad application in cancer drug development.
In the SUPPRESSTEM consortium, Merus will develop Biclonics™ antibodies which will both modulate the Wnt pathway and address growth factor receptors to specifically inhibit cancer stem cells with minimal toxicity on healthy tissue. Functional screening of these stem cell-targeting bispecific antibodies for specific inhibitory activity and for selecting lead candidates will be done using organoids.