I am Myriam Ouberai, CEO and Founder of Spirea. Our venture has developed an exciting and flexible new approach to building antibody drug conjugate (ADC) cancer therapeutics that allows more drug payload to be specifically directed to tumour cells. This results in an increase in the therapeutic window and improved efficacy. By delivering the right amount of the right drug to the right cells, Spirea’s proprietary technology will unlock a new generation of accessible and powerful medicines for the treatment of a wide range of cancers.
I formerly worked as a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge Nanoscience Centre, where I was researching nanomedicine and drug delivery, and their use in various biomedical applications. It was there that I started working on a project that aimed to improve the delivery of antibiotics to infected cells. This led to the development of the drug delivery technology behind my venture, Spirea.
I was interested in the commercialisation of this technology and I wanted to learn how to apply the initial idea to cancer treatment. I started interacting with Cambridge Judge Business School to find out what support was available.
I joined Accelerate Cambridge, Cohort 4 in 2014 after meeting with Hanadi Jabado who has been a mentor to me since then. At that time, I had the technology, but no idea where to start and how to grow it into a business. The programme was a great platform for me to start up a company and understand more about the commercialisation of technology.
During the programme, I have had great advice on what questions I should ask, what should I be doing next to grow a successful business and where to get funding. The programme has provided me with long term support. Every time I needed expertise, I could reach out to the mentors and coaches for advice, including specific IP or legal questions. We have a great application for oncology and cancer therapeutics but it is also key to find the right people who are really interested in working with us.
I still receive support from Accelerate Cambridge; I believe it is very important to keep the Cambridge Judge connection. Before COVID, every day I was working at the Business School. The environment is a great place to build your network and make friends. The programme is like a family. I am very grateful for the ongoing support from the coaches and mentors at Accelerate Cambridge who have been so important in helping me progress Spirea to this point. I look forward to continuing to work with the programme as we take the company to the next stage.
Back in the Summer of 2016, I also participated on the Ignite programme. It was a wonderful week where I really started to build a good network and met lots of interesting people with whom I have continued to work. One of the key people I met during Ignite was Gaynor Fryers, who is now on Spirea’s board. Gaynor has also been my coach on Accelerate Cambridge.
2020 was a good year for Spirea as we attracted high-profile investors to support us. In April, we raised pre-seed funding from Start Codon and Jonathan Milner which enabled us to continue the technical development of our platform technology. In December we raised further funding from o2h Ventures and Syndicate Room and successfully validated our platform following in vitro and in vivo proof-of-concept studies.
We are now transitioning from a platform validation to a drug discovery company that is building a pipeline of cancer therapeutics. Now that studies have shown that our platform technology is working in animal models, we will apply it to developing innovative drugs that will unlock an unmet need in numerous solid tumour indications and patient populations. Since the start of 2021, we have been working with various experts to plan our pipeline of programmes through to preclinical candidate selection that we are going to start when we close a significant Seed funding this summer.