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Cyclica, University of Toronto Lab Launch Joint Venture Perturba Therapeutics

NEW YORK – Biotech firm Cyclica and the Stagljar Lab at the University of Toronto on Wednesday launched a joint venture, called Perturba Therapeutics, focused on unaddressable and undrugged oncology targets.

Perturba combines Cyclica's artificial intelligence-augmented drug discovery platform with cell-based assays developed at the Stagljar Lab. The company is focused on developing drugs that modulate protein-protein interactions for difficult-to-treat cancers.

"Over the past two years, my lab has developed two high-impact, live cell-based technologies for studying protein-protein interactions and identifying novel drug molecules – MaMTH-DS and SIMPL," Igor Stagljar, professor at University of Toronto, said in a statement. "Combining these two technologies with Cyclica's world-class AI-drug design approach will usher in a new way to conduct drug discovery for highly intractable targets in an unprecedented way at scale."

Perturba, based in Toronto, will initially focus on two EGFR triple mutant programs for non-small cell lung cancer and four programs in various cancers that target GTPases, enzymes that bind to the nucleotide guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and convert it to guanosine diphosphate (GDP).

Cyclica will provide initial funding for the company and will seek external funding in the future. Rick Panicucci, senior VP at BridgeBio Pharma, has been appointed as non-executive chairman of Perturba to help oversee the company's strategy. Perturba has also appointed Su Dharmawardhane Flanagan, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine; Tony Hunter, director of the Salk Institute Cancer Center; and Ming Tsao, a professor at University of Toronto, to its scientific advisory board.