DISCO Pharmaceuticals, a pioneering biotech company, has officially emerged from stealth mode with a breakthrough technology aimed at unlocking the surfaceome of cancer cells. This revolutionary approach facilitates the identification of new targets and the development of first-in-class drugs. Headquartered in Cologne, Germany, and Schlieren, Switzerland, DISCO has successfully secured seed financing of EUR 20 million from a world-leading investor syndicate, including Sofinnova Partners, Panakes Partners, M Ventures, and AbbVie Ventures.
Addressing the Challenges in Oncology Treatment
The landscape of oncology treatment is rapidly evolving, with an increasing focus on developing novel therapeutic modalities. However, the limitation of cancer-specific cell surface targets has hindered the application of these treatments to a few clinically effective targets. While the development of biologics like antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and bi-specific antibodies is on the rise, the industry is currently reliant on less than 30 molecular targets for all antibody-based therapies. This presents a significant need to identify novel cancer-specific targets and target pairs.
DISCO’s Innovative Surfaceome Mapping Platform
DISCO is at the forefront of transforming target discovery for large molecule R&D with its pioneering surfaceome mapping platform. This innovative technology identifies proteins and protein communities across the entire cancer cell surface in a scalable manner. By doing so, it addresses the critical need for target candidates for both mono- and bi-specific antibodies. The insights gained from this platform enable the development of a diverse range of cancer-specific therapies, promising to enhance efficacy and reduce side effects for patients. DISCO has already initiated the development of a robust internal pipeline of novel anti-cancer therapeutics based on this groundbreaking knowledge.
Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) Breakthrough
DISCO has achieved a significant milestone by completing the first-ever map of the surfaceome of a cancer type, specifically Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC). Historically known for its difficulty in treatment, SCLC has become the focus of DISCO’s proprietary antibody-based treatments. The success in mapping SCLC’s surfaceome within months has validated DISCO’s technology platform and approach, showcasing its potential to be applied to different indications.
Current Focus: Microsatellite-Stable Colorectal Cancer
Currently, DISCO is actively working on Microsatellite-Stable Colorectal Cancer, a condition associated with a high unmet medical need and limited treatment options. The company’s dedication to addressing challenging cancer types underscores its commitment to making a substantial impact on patient outcomes. In addition to disclosed programs, DISCO’s pipeline includes undisclosed programs that hold promise for further advancements in cancer therapeutics.
Academic Roots and Experienced Leadership
Founded in May 2022, DISCO originated from ETH Zürich, with founders boasting expertise from ETH, the University of Cologne, and Stanford University. The team, including Prof. Roman Thomas, Dr. Johannes Heuckmann, Prof. Bernd Wollscheid, and Prof. Julien Sage, combines profound knowledge in surface proteomics, cancer biology, and drug discovery, along with a track record of value creation. Dr. Stefan Ries, former Roche executive and Versant Ventures venture partner, joins DISCO as Chief Scientific Officer, adding a wealth of leadership experience.
Strong Board and Advisory Team
DISCO’s Board of Directors, comprised of seasoned professionals from the investor syndicate, is further strengthened by the appointment of Dieter Weinand as Chairman. Dieter Weinand, former CEO of Bayer Pharmaceuticals, brings extensive leadership experience from Pfizer, BMS, and Sanofi. His current roles in various biopharmaceutical companies, including Coya Therapeutics, Replimune, Umoja, Inspirna, and Mnemo Therapeutics, underscore his commitment to driving innovation in the industry. Additionally, Dr. Carsten Reinhardt, Chief Development Officer at Immatics, joins DISCO’s Board as an Independent Director, leveraging his expertise from Micromet Inc and Hoffmann-La Roche.
Insights from Key Figures
Roman Thomas, Founder and CEO of DISCO Pharmaceuticals, expresses the culmination of a decade of research, stating, “We believe that our surfaceome discovery technology is truly disruptive and will transform oncology treatment options and ultimately improve outcomes for patients.” Maina Bhaman, Partner at Sofinnova Partners, acknowledges DISCO’s unique position, stating, “DISCO is uniquely positioned to transform cancer care,” emphasizing the team’s diverse backgrounds and the innovative surfaceome discovery technology.
Dieter Weinand, newly appointed Chairman of the DISCO Board, expresses optimism about overcoming the bottleneck in oncology target space expansion. He believes DISCO’s exceptional team and disruptive surfaceome discovery engine will play a pivotal role in advancing the industry.
1. What is the significance of DISCO Pharmaceuticals’ surfaceome mapping platform?
DISCO’s surfaceome mapping platform is revolutionary in identifying proteins and protein communities across the entire cancer cell surface. This scalable technology addresses the critical need for target candidates for both mono- and bi-specific antibodies, offering a diverse range of cancer-specific therapies.
2. How has DISCO Pharmaceuticals validated its technology platform?
DISCO has completed the first-ever map of the surfaceome of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC), a historically difficult-to-treat cancer type. The success in mapping SCLC’s surfaceome within months serves as validation for DISCO’s technology platform and its potential application to different indications.
3. What is DISCO’s current focus in terms of cancer types?
DISCO is actively working on Microsatellite-Stable Colorectal Cancer, a condition associated with a high unmet medical need and limited treatment options. The company’s dedication to challenging cancer types highlights its commitment to making a substantial impact on patient outcomes.
DISCO Pharmaceuticals’ emergence from stealth mode marks a significant leap in the field of oncology. The company’s surfaceome mapping platform has the potential to redefine target discovery for large molecule R&D, offering a broader spectrum of cancer-specific therapies. With a strong foundation in academic research, experienced leadership, and a commitment to addressing challenging cancer types, DISCO is poised to contribute significantly to the advancement of cancer treatment options and patient outcomes.