By Phyllis Mak, RIC Centre’s Communications Intern
Tool development and releases, preparing and refining prototype platforms, financing and funding— it’s been a busy year for Cyclica Inc., who immersed themselves into numerous projects over the course of 2016 to reach their goals and objectives. This month, RIC Centre client and Cyclica’s President and CEO, Naheed Kurji, talked with us about their progress and future hopes for the company.
“The year-over-year change in Cyclica’s core technology has been remarkably positive,” reveals Naheed. “Our clients are looking for a faster and cheaper way to bring safer and more effective drugs to the market. After spending a few determined years focused on development, we have emerged with a validated and patented platform that addresses this pain point. We are now focused on the next evolution of Cyclica’s story— commercialization, scale, and continued innovation. We are determined to be a utility platform that is integral in the R&D value chain.”
One of the projects this year included the expansion in the functionality of Cyclica’s Ligand Express™. It’s a product that was initially centred around PROBEx, a validated computational proteome-wide screening platform that generates a novel list of putative ligand-protein interactions. The aim is to help customers interrogate and interpret the data while providing them with the biological context that enables insight and supports decisions, so Cyclica developed the analytical tools SWITCHx and DIVEx.
SWITCHx annotates the putative effects on identified targets as either agonistic or antagonistic, and uses data automatically mined from the scientific literature. Meanwhile, DIVEx links putative targets to biological pathways and diseases using Cyclica’s proprietary systems biology databank. DIVEx also enables identification of synergistic drug combinations that may further augment drug development initiatives.
“These additional analytical tools add a robustness to our offering and are based on client feedback and requests,” Naheed explains. “One can think of Ligand Express™ as a risk adjustment tool in that we help our clients make better and more efficient decisions with their time and money. Going forward, the R&D team is continually working to push the boundaries through continued innovation to ensure we are leading the industry on all fronts.
The platform is now available internally to Cyclica’s Application Scientists through a secure and private web-based user interface. With feedback being provided directly to the development team, Cyclica is refining the platform for release to clients next year under a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model— a significant achievement in their efforts to refine their offering to meet customer demands.
Cyclica’s Application Science team has also been hard at work: with the help of Ligand Express™, they’ve undertaken research projects with various nutraceutical clients to find effective naturally occurring treatments (outside of drug therapies) to common conditions. Additionally, they’ve also worked with academic and pharmaceutical clients to examine therapies for rare and orphan diseases, with the hopes of publishing promising validation results.
Earlier this year, Cyclica also participated in and closed a Series A1 Financing. “With the support of groups like GreenSky Capital, the China Canada Angel Alliance (CCA) and others, we were able to meet our target for the Series A1 round,” says Naheed. “During the fundraising process, GreenSky Capital was an effective partner assisting us to ensure that we met our fundraising targets— both in the planning stage as well as while the round unfolded and new investment flowed in. The RIC Centre also provided insight into potential funding programs, encouraged awareness and visibility on our behalf into networking opportunities and assisted us with communication outreach. They continue to provide advice as Cyclica grows and emerges from its beginning stages.”
The $2.4 Million Series A1 Financing will also help Cyclica scale up their sales and marketing efforts alongside the expansion of innovation through continued product development.
“Admittedly, it took a bit more effort than we expected due to the inherent complexity behind our underlying technology,” Naheed adds. “But once we adjusted our messaging and focused on our strategy, we were able to secure the required capital from the right types of investors.”
Nearing the conclusion of 2016, Cyclica’s milestones include continued organic growth within the business, staffing the team for success (including five net new hires by the end of the year), seven new paying clients representing strong commercial validation, and a prototype of the SaaS platform up and running for internal use.
They’ve set their sights on commercialization through the refinement of a SaaS prototype, with the eventual release of a client-facing beta version followed by broad client platform release, the development and release of two additional tools (TRACEx and CROSSx) within Cyclica’s platform, and the filing of supplementary patents covering technology enhancements.
Cyclica also received the Healthcare and Life Science Award for “Excellence in Life Saving Therapeutics” from Corporate LiveWire Magazine in their 2016 Healthcare and Life Sciences Awards series!
Congratulations to Cyclica! You can find more information on Cyclica’s projects and research here.
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