The story of Laura Soucek is that of a perseverant scientist and entrepreneur, determined to make her dream come true. "They told me it was impossible but they did not give me enough reasons to believe it," says the co-founder of Peptomyc. She was barely a biology student when she set out to attack a protein called Myc – common to all cancers – to block its action and slow down the development of the disease.
We showed that it is possible to block Myc, something that nobody had tried
His first "no" came then. His teachers told him that inhibiting this protein was not possible. He succeeded, and was told that his solution would be toxic and would not pass the tests on mice. He overcame them, and told him it would not work with human tumors. But it worked, and he was told that his system could not be transferred to a drug, since it would be a large molecule unable to reach the nucleus of cancer – his heart – where Myc is. Once this test is over, the definitive one arrives: clinical trials with patients. It will be, he says, "the moment of truth." If everything goes well, it will do so at the beginning of 2020.
- Old acquaintances, new remedies
What effect does Peptomyc have? In tests in mice with human tumors, these either disappear or stop growing (metastasis is slowed down), without side effects. It is shown in a recent study, published in Science Translational Medicine, 11 years after another one of Nature that was key: "We showed that it is possible to block Myc, something that nobody had tried, although its capacity to cause tumors has been known for 40 years".
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Soucek is a principal researcher at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO) and a professor. Why start? "We wanted [ella y su cofundadora, Marie- Eve Beaulieu] to transfer to patients what we were doing in the laboratory, "he says. The funds Alta Life Sciences, Healthequity and a group of angel investors accompany them in their crusade against cancer.
- Who. Laura Soucek (Rome, 1973), of Italian mother and Czech father, public prize EIT 2018 of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.
- Where. Principal investigator of the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology and co-founder of Peptomyc.