With 15 years of research experience, over 20 well-cited peer-reviewed publications, and many competitive research awards in her arsenal, Dr. Nusrat Sanghamitra is poised for success as CEO of CyCa Oncosolutions, the company behind a new biomolecular device, the CyCa Delivery Device. This is a high-speed, high-precision delivery device that brings fluorescent dyes, anticancer drugs, and therapeutic proteins and genes into the cell. Nusrat is joined by Dr. Farooque Razvi as the company’s chief scientist. Farooque, with a PhD in structural biology from ETH Zurich, stated, “I am excited to work hard in order to complete the challenging science associated with CyCa OncoSolutions.” The dynamic pair is united by persistence, tenacity, and love of research.
CyCa’s success started when they received a competitive, six-figure initial grant from the Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme (BIG) by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) to bring the idea to proof-of-concept in March 2016. Their next achievement was being selected for the fourth cohort of RebelBio, a leading biotechnology startup accelerator in Cork, Ireland. Since joining RebelBio, they have validated their science with positive results during the program’s three-month lab phase.
In collaboration with experts from the Departments of Biochemistry, Anatomy, and Neuroscience, and the Cork Cancer Centre and Tyndall Institute, RebelBio provides each company with fully-equipped BSL-2 lab space in University College Cork’s microbiology department. Understanding that they needed to acquire greater business knowledge, CyCa applied to RebelBio, which gave them the network and skills to build a successful business model and prototypes to pitch their company to leading investors in biotechnology. This is a team that wants success and knows where to gain the skills they need!
Nusrat said, “Our initial idea came from the unexpected outcome of a naive experiment in which I mixed fluorescently labelled needle molecules with highly delicate induced pluripotent cells in an effort to form a template for tissue regeneration. Instead, this mixture resulted in glowing cells, creating the initial concept for the Cyca Delivery Device.”
But CyCa has no intention of stopping there. In fact, they are developing a complete oncology product line by developing novel conjugates of anticancer drugs in order to reduce chemotherapy doses, while retaining the efficacy of the drugs. CyCa OncoSolutions is committed to improving the quality of life of 15 million cancer patients worldwide by reducing the side effects of chemotherapeutic drugs by delivering the drugs directly into the cells with their proprietary biomolecular machinery. Their ground-breaking technology employs a biomolecular machine to program live cells to deliver small and large functional molecules; a combination set to transform the cancer therapeutic industry.
This team has both the deep expertise necessary to bring this product to the market, and the emotional investment that will drive them through the challenge of the hundreds of thousands of lab hours required. Nusrat’s father suffered from the side effects of chemotherapy for years, leading to her global research career at the intersection of chemistry, bio-nanotechnology, and cell biology in the quest to find a better anticancer drug with fewer side effects.
Nusrat is so dedicated to her work that she even dreams about it. She explains, “The wildest part of my research process is that, whenever my experiments are not working in the lab, I dream that they work and then they eventually do. For example, when I was completing work for my PhD, I was trying to crystallize one of the compounds, but unfortunately no crystals were forming. However, in my dreams I saw the crystal structure. I had this dream everyday until it worked in the lab. Now, I am running experiments for the CyCa Delivery Device and am having trouble with a few components and the dreams are starting again, but if the past is any indication, I will be successful in the lab.” Nusrat has also dedicated much of her time to soaking in the teachings of RebelBio, including how to tell a technical story in simple terms, the importance of listening to people’s needs in order to sell, and the vital importance of talking to customers when developing product.
After RebelBio, CyCa OncoSolutions is looking forward to expanding in Cork, Ireland in order to establish successful collaborations with Irish research institutes. This will allow them to thrive and grow in the conducive environment of Cork, a vibrant startup ecosystem and biotech hub. It will operate from both India and Ireland to contribute to the science and economy of both countries.
See more of CyCa OncoSolutions and the other 14 amazing companies at RebelBio‘s Demo Day in London on Wednesday, July 26. Investors are invited to purchase tickets to attend here and the live stream link is available here.