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Why NFX Invested in TwoStep Therapeutics: One Elegant Platform Targeting 90% of Cancers

At NFX Bio, our discussions with founders focus on three key elements:

  • Are you the right team?
  • Do you have defensible, differentiated magic?
  • Is your market big enough?

When we first met the team at TwoStep Therapeutics, it was clear they were a huge yes in all 3 areas.

TwoStep’s founding team developed a unique polyspecific integrin-binding peptide (PIP) that targets integrins on solid tumors – using them as signals to then deliver many different kinds of therapeutic payloads. This allows them to reach virtually any solid tumor, which account for 90 percent of cancers.

That’s a versatile treatment delivery system capable of reaching previously untargetable solid tumors with the medicine needed to beat it.

Here’s why NFX Bio led their $6.5 million seed round, backing this team from the bench to the boardroom.

1. Powerhouse Scientist-Founders

We are all in on scientists-founders taking their own technology to market. No one understands the technology like the person who saw the need and developed it themselves.

TwoStep Founder and CEO Caitlyn Miller, Ph.D., played a pivotal role in advancing this technology during her PhD and postdoc at Stanford alongside her co-founders. Caitlyn also understands the pressing need for tumor targeting technology on a personal level, after losing her stepfather to oral cancer. That’s the right combination of expertise and perspective.

And she has surrounded herself with one of the strongest teams in the field. Her academic co-founders include:

This Stanford team brings both the business and science skills needed to bring their technology from the bench to market.

2. A Unique Platform With Many Use Cases

Solid tumors are traditionally hard to target because many of them lack extracellular targets that allow therapies to hone in on them. Instead, most patients have to use radiation or chemotherapy to attack the tumor. But these tools are blunt instruments that don’t spare healthy tissues and come with a litany of side effects.

TwoStep’s polyspecific integrin-binding peptide hones in on five integrins that are highly expressed on solid tumor types, while leaving healthy tissues alone. For solid tumor types that are primarily treated with chemotherapy and radiation, this means opening the door to entirely new treatments, like small molecule drugs, radionuclides or larger payloads like proteins.

This opens a new world of possibilities for patients with this type of cancer. It extends the value of countless existing medications – meaning we can take shots at many different varieties of tumors, using different therapeutic payloads.

That’s the power of a bioplatform in action. Many shots on goal, many opportunities to use one core technology system to save lives without going back to the drawing board every time.

3. The Biggest Possible Market

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States.

Solid tumors account for 90 percent of cancers, and most remain ineligible for approved tumor-targeted treatments due to lack of particular extracellular targets.

More people are surviving cancer diagnoses, but we are also seeing more cancer cases overall. In 2024, over 2 million cancer cases are expected to emerge in the US alone.

TwoStep has developed a platform capable of addressing a huge section of these patients who would otherwise be left with few good options. Eventually, treating a solid tumor should be as simple as selecting the right medicine and sending it where it needs to go. Delivery should never be a barrier.

A single delivery system that can address many different varieties of cancer is something that could save millions of lives – that’s moving the needle on a societal level.

TwoStep’s team has the big vision we want to see from scientist-founders. We’re thrilled to be backing that vision from the very beginning.

Find out more about TwoStep Therapeutics here.

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Author
Omri Drory, Ph.D.
General Partner
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