Mission Therapeutics


Mission Therapeutics was founded in 2011, with the aim of improving the lives of patients suffering from a range of serious diseases including neurodegeneration, inflammation and cancer, through the development of a new class of drugs that inhibit deubiquitylating enzymes (DUBs for short).

DUBs play an important role in regulating ubiquitylation, the process through which ubiquitin influences the behaviour of proteins in our cells. As the name suggests, DUBs are ‘ubiquitous’ – ubiquitin exists in virtually every cell in the human body. Nevertheless, they are a relatively under-explored class of enzymes, but it is becoming increasingly evident that DUBs could play a role in the treatment of a variety of therapeutic areas.

In November 2018, Mission signed an agreement with AbbVie to collaborate in the research and preclinical development of DUB inhibitors for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Investment case summary

Mission Therapeutics has a solid scientific foundation and a focus on a relatively unexplored set of targets. One of its founders is Professor Steve Jackson, Head of Cancer Research UK Laboratories at the Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge. Professor Jackson has substantial experience with early-stage companies, having founded KuDOS Pharmaceuticals which was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2005.

The company has built a proprietary, world-leading DUB platform that has combined novel disease biology, bespoke screening tools and unique chemistry, to generate a rich pipeline of highly potent and specific drug candidates with substantial clinical and commercial potential. The business has evolved quickly, and intends to progress its lead programs towards and into clinical development in due course.

One of Mission’s programmes targets a DUB enzyme called USP30, believed to play a role in the development of a range of disease areas, including neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. There is a significant unmet need in these areas because current therapies are limited to treating symptoms. Mission’s approach has the potential to have a real disease modifying impact.

The collaboration with AbbVie, signed in November 2018, represents an excellent validation of Mission’s scientific foundations. The company is still at an early-stage of its development but we believe it has all the ingredients in place to deliver attractive long-term returns as it progresses on its journey towards commercialisation.

Ask a question about our investment in Mission Therapeutics

Fund exposure
Patient Capital Trust 1.82%

As at 31 March 2019

Geography United Kingdom
Industry Health Care
Themes Healthcare innovation

Source: Woodford


Collaboration with AbbVie

Last week, Mission announced a major collaboration with AbbVie, one of the world’s biggest global pharmaceutical companies, in the research and preclinical treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

These are areas of considerable unmet clinical need. It is estimated that 50 million people are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – a number that is expected to double every 20 years. More than 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson’s disease. There are currently no treatments to stop or reverse the progression of either disease, only to alleviate the symptoms.

AbbVie highlights that Mission’s scientists “have developed impressive early research toward the understanding of these diseases”. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are associated with the accumulation of misfolded, toxic proteins, which are believed to cause impaired function and death of nerve cells in the brain. DUBs play an important role in keeping a cell healthy by regulating the degradation of these proteins. By modulating specific DUBs within the brain, AbbVie and Mission are aiming to develop potential therapeutics that enable the degradation of these toxic proteins and prevent their accumulation.

Although financial details of the transaction have not been disclosed, we believe this agreement represents an excellent validation of the quality of Mission’s scientific foundations. Importantly, the collaboration does not include any of Mission’s other lead DUB programs including USP30 and USP10.

Lucinda Crabtree
19 November 2018

Woodford Investment Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number 745433). Incorporated in England and Wales, company number 10118169. Registered address 9400 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2HN.

Woodford Patient Capital Trust plc is incorporated in England and Wales, company number 09405653. Registered as an investment company under section 833 of the Companies Act 2006. Registered address Beaufort House, 51 New North Road, Exeter, EX4 4EP.

© 2019 Woodford Investment Management Ltd.
All rights reserved.

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