Cumulus Oncology and leadXpro Announce Collaboration to Develop Small Molecules against Novel Cancer-Focused GPCR Targets

Resulting IP will be licensed into a newly created Cumulus company


Edinburgh, Scotland, and Villigen, Switzerland 17th July 2023. Cumulus Oncology (“Cumulus”) and leadXpro AG (“leadXpro”) today announce they have signed a research collaboration focused on the discovery and development of small molecules targeting an undisclosed and novel cancer-focused G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR).

This collaboration will use the core expertise of both companies to create an initial high-value, lead programme. leadXpro will use its structural biology expertise, combining proprietary technology in protein structure determination, coupled with biophysical characterisation and computational modelling, to generate novel compounds.  Cumulus Oncology brings a team of successful life science entrepreneurs with deep oncology sector knowledge and a recognised track record in translational oncology drug development.

A GPCR portfolio company, created by Cumulus Oncology, focused on novel GPCR  targets on tumours and the tumour microenvironment, will have the option to license the Lead compound series as well as resulting intellectual property from the research collaboration. Under the license terms, leadXpro will retain an economic interest in the Lead compound series.

Clare Wareing, Founder and CEO of Cumulus Oncology, said: At Cumulus, a core focus is the identification of new targets, assets and opportunities that we believe have great potential as future oncology therapeutics in patient sub-groups where unmet medical need persists, despite recent advances.  Given the recent and parallel progress in both understanding the role of GPCRs in cancer, as well as the technological advances that enable a more robust characterisation of these important membrane signal transducers, we believe there is significant medical and commercial potential for GPCRs in the oncology field.

leadXpro have in-depth expertise in the characterisation of membrane proteins with a strong track record in GPCRs.  They exemplify the technological advances that have occurred  in recent years which now enable a more robust evaluation of this important receptor family.  With their structural biology expertise, innovative platform technology and track record of success, we believe they are the ideal partner to accelerate the discovery of small molecule modulators of a novel GPCR target. We are looking forward to working closely with the team at leadXpro and to sharing future updates as key milestones are achieved.

Michael Hennig, Co-founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board at leadXpro, said: We are very pleased to be working with Cumulus Oncology. The team have an impressive track record in the successful translation of early stage science into commercially and medically successful cancer therapeutics. Cumulus Oncology’s approach to identifying and validating early-stage opportunities and targets coupled with both capital and expert oncology drug development resources make them an ideal partner. With this collaboration we combine leadXpro’s scientific expertise and proprietary technology in structural biology with our capabilities in computational chemistry and machine learning for generating novel small molecule hits and leads for the modulation of GPCR activity. The skill set of the team at Cumulus and leadXpro are extremely complimentary and we look forward to a very successful collaboration.

About Cumulus Oncology

Founded in 2017, Cumulus sources novel oncology assets from academic institutes, commercial drug discovery groups and biopharmaceutical companies. The company also identifies novel targets for drug discovery programmes which it supports and collaborates on. Following rigorous due diligence and market assessment activities, negotiations on deal terms and in-depth feasibility on the investment case, selected assets are spun out into newly created companies. Cumulus contributes both early stage capital and oncology drug development expertise and manages each spinout company to achieve key development milestones and value inflections.  The companies created by Cumulus represent valuable investment opportunities for VCs that focus on the biotech sector. These VCs are important partners for Cumulus when the spinout companies reach key inflection points. The founding team at Cumulus consists of successful life science entrepreneurs, scientists and a range of oncology drug development and pharma sector business professionals. Asset classes of interest include small molecules and biologics which target known and novel pathways in cancer, where there is a clear path forward into clinical development, often in molecularly selected patient sub-groups.

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About GPCRs

GPCRs, the largest human membrane protein family, play a pivotal role in drug development. With accessible druggable sites on the cell surface, they modulate various physiological responses, making them attractive targets. Research since 2018 has expanded understanding of the roles of GPCRs in cancer. These studies have identified several GPCRs as potential therapeutics and highlighted their involvement in various aspects of cancer biology. GPCR-targeting drugs hold a substantial market share, accounting for 27% of global therapeutic sales from 2011 to 2015 (US$890 billion). Despite this, over half of the non-olfactory GPCRs (224) remain untapped therapeutically. Recent advances in receptor pharmacology and structural biology have paved the way for allosteric modulation and biased agonism, enhancing selectivity and minimizing side effects. GPCRs offer promising opportunities in drug development and oncology therapeutics.


About leadXpro AG

leadXpro AG is a biotechnology company specialized in structure-based drug discovery for membrane proteins. Membrane proteins are the most promising targets for drug discovery, yet also the most challenging. To unlock these targets, we bring together specialized knowledge in protein science, pioneering technologies in structural biology and expertise in ligand design and characterization. leadXpro’s research covers a range of membrane proteins, including GPCRs, ion channels, transporters, and enzymes. leadXpro acts as a research partner for a growing number of pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic partners.