Dr Geoff Macintyre and Dr Anna Piskorz, Co-founders of Pinpoint Oncology, a startup supported by the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre, have been awarded a £50,000 Innovation Prize by Cancer Research UK.
Leveraging cutting-edge research conducted at Cancer Research UK and the University of Cambridge, Pinpoint Oncology is developing a pharmacogenomic test that can help predict the best drug treatment for patients of the deadliest cancers. The funding award will help them to take this test further and carry out a retrospective clinical trial.
Research by the Pinpoint Oncology founders, published last year in Nature Genetics, found that different types of chromosomal instability leave tell-tale patterns in the DNA. They developed a computational method to translate these patterns into signatures which can predict overall survival and tumour progression.
Currently in the UK, if first-line drug treatment does not work, ovarian cancer patients are given a choice between two chemotherapy drugs: doxorubicin or gemcitabine. In this retrospective clinical trial, Pinpoint Oncology hope to demonstrate their test can correctly predict patients’ responses to doxorubicin.
If successful, Pinpoint Oncology’s next steps would be to make this test available to patients with ovarian cancer and apply for funding to carry out clinical trials for other therapies. The team are currently studying a set of over 12,000 cancers to find new signatures which will allow prediction of therapy response across multiple tumour types. If successful, their test has the potential to make precision medicine a reality for many hard to treat cancers.
Pinpoint Oncology, founded by Dr Geoff Macintyre, Research Associate at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute; Dr Anna Piskorz, Senior Research Associate at Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute; and Jason Yip, Cambridge MBA candidate, originally met at a Venture Creation Weekend managed and delivered by the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre. They were subsequently awarded third place at the Entrepreneurship Centre’s Medical Technology Venture Competition and are now participating in Accelerate Cambridge at Cambridge Judge Business School.
Jason Yip commented “Without the Entrepreneurship Centre, Pinpoint Oncology would not be where it is today. The Venture Creation Weekend was an excellent event that allowed the team to develop its commercial acumen in an intense and exciting environment. Beyond this, the mentorship and advice we have received from the Accelerate programme has been pivotal to developing our business case. Support from the Entrepreneurship Centre has been fundamental in our translation from students and researchers to entrepreneurs.”