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Hercules Pharmaceuticals receives investment from UNIIQ for the development of cancer immunotherapy

Hercules Pharmaceuticals, a Boston University spin-off company, currently located at the Leiden Bioscience Park, will receive a € 300,000 investment from the UNIIQ investment fund for the further development of its lead compound, an immunotherapeutic for different forms of cancer. The investment was announced at the UNIIQ Live event by Ivo de Nooijer, director of LURIS, the Technology Transfer Office of Leiden University.

Hercules Pharmaceuticals ontvangt investering van UNIIQ voor ontwikkeling immuuntherapie tegen kanker

Inhibition of tumor growth

Many cancer patients experience a suppressed immune system. This causes the body to incorrectly detect tumor cells as healthy tissue, resulting in the inability of the body’s natural defence system to attack and destroy these cells. Hercules Pharmaceuticals currently develops a therapeutic that activates the immune system, thereby limiting the growth and metastasis of the cancer cells. This therapy revolves around the inhibition of the Aryl Hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) in different forms of cancer in which AhR has a high expression level.

Over the last few years, a number of different therapies, focusing specifically on improving the patient’s immune system, have been introduced into the market. These so-called ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ have had a strong positive effect on patients suffering from a number of difficult-to-treat cancers, such as skin and lung cancer. Using the UNIIQ investment, Hercules Pharmaceuticals will further develop its lead compound and use this compound in a number of mouse models, thereby also exploring the possibilities to use the compound in combination with current therapies. Expectations are that Hercules’ drug can be used as both a standalone therapy and a combination therapy.

This investment from UNIIQ enables us to further prove efficacy and safety of our drug

Further Development

Hercules Pharmaceuticals was founded by Boston University and DDF Ventures and uses the IP and knowhow from inventor and CSO David Sherr. The company is headed by CEO Bart Wuurman, former CEO of, amongst others,  Lanthio Pharma and AM-Pharma. Wuurman: “This investment from UNIIQ enables us to further prove efficacy and safety of our drug. Initially this will be done by using different mouse models, but we have set a clear goal to use this therapeutic in a clinical setting as soon as possible”.

Liduina Hammer: “Immunotherapy has seen a very strong growth and a number of breakthrough developments over the last couple of years, strongly improving the outlook for a large number of patients. Hercules Pharmaceuticals has shown promising results so far in this field and with this this investment UNIIQ will contribute to an important step towards obtaining proof-of-concept with the technology and further growth and development of the company.”