Cambridge, UK-based drug discovery and development group Mission Therapeutics has raised £60 million from investors and existing shareholders to help drive advances in its key therapeutic programmes.

The company is focused on selectively targeting deubiquitylating (DUB) enzymes to treat cancer, neurodegenerative and other diseases, and plans to use the funds to help push a series of first-in-class small molecule drug candidates targeting specific DUBs into clinical development.

DUBs are involved in multiple cellular processes, including DNA damage and cell proliferation. Their inhibition has considerable potential for the generation of novel drugs for treating cancer and other unmet medical needs, including neurodegenerative disease, muscle wasting and infectious disease. But there remains a lack of DUB inhibitors in development despite significant efforts within the pharmaceutical sector, the firm noted, highlighting the opportunities.

“This is a strong endorsement of our unique discovery platform and will enable us to maximise the potential of multiple lead compounds for diverse therapeutic indications,” said Mission’s chief executive Anker Lundemose. “2016 will see us progress our advanced programs into regulatory preclinical development and deepen our pipeline, from a position of increased financial strength.”

The financing was jointly led by Imperial Innovations Businesses and new investor Woodford Patient Capital Trust, with follow-on investment from existing shareholders Sofinnova Partners, SR One, Roche Venture Fund and Pfizer Venture Investments.